MONTREAL - Here are some key storylines from Sunday afternoon's 4-3 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre.
Tight-checking road hockey stifles Habs
The Canadiens may have made it a close game, but the Blue Jackets didn't give them much room to maneuver and made it as tough as possible for them to do so.
"They were tight-checking, I guess you could say that's typical road hockey. They weren't breaking it open too much, not looking for the home run pass at all. They were just playing tight in their own zone defensively and moving up as five guys," described Ben Chiarot, who registered one assist, one shot, two hits and two blocked shots in 22:41 of action. "They always seem to have guys jumping up, moving through the neutral zone and finding an open guy."
Video: Ben Chiarot on a tight-checking game by the Jackets
After enjoying a 4-0 shutout win over the Florida Panthers the day before, the Habs were hoping for a similar result against another team they're chasing in the playoff race.
However, Columbus' game is far from similar to that of Florida's, and the Canadiens couldn't manage a sweep of their weekend back-to-back set against a defensively sound Blue Jackets squad.
"Every game is different. I said it before the game; we were playing a very different team than the one we played yesterday. In the second half of the first period, they started to win their battles along the boards, and then they scored the first goal," outlined head coach Claude Julien. "That's what made the difference in the first period. Still, we didn't play a bad game, but we made some little mistakes that cost us."
Believing in the comeback
A late Columbus goal in the second period seemingly put the game out of reach for Montreal, but the Habs didn't let themselves get overwhelmed by the Jackets' 3-1 lead heading into the final frame.
"It's never easy, but you also look around the League and teams come back from two, three goals in a period. So I think the discussion in here was that it's definitely possible, we have to believe, and if you don't believe it's not going to happen," shared Shea Weber, who made it a 4-3 game with 61 seconds to go. "It didn't happen tonight, but I could definitely say there was belief in here between periods."
Video: Shea Weber on the Habs' belief in a comeback
Before the Weber goal, Max Domi scored with 4:08 remaining in regulation to make it a one-goal game, but the Blue Jackets responded with an empty-netter 52 seconds before the Weber tally.
And while Domi was pleased to snap a 13-game goalless drought and contribute to his club's comeback effort, he wished the tally could've made more of a difference in the Habs' quest for a playoff spot.
"That's part of the game. You just want to help your team win in any way you possibly can," said Domi, who played his team-leading 250th consecutive game on Sunday. "Unfortunately, it wasn't enough today."
Video: Max Domi on his goal
The Canadiens are scheduled to practice at 10:30 a.m. on Monday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. They'll leave for New Jersey after the skate, and face the Devils the following day at 7:00 p.m. at the Prudential Center.