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Shots aplenty, but the struggles continue

Despite firing a season-high 42 shots on goal, the Canadiens dropped their third straight game on Tuesday night

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - Scoring just a single goal isn't typically a recipe for success against the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks. 

That was certainly the case on Tuesday night.

Despite firing a season-high 42 shots on goaltender Corey Crawford, the Canadiens managed to solve the two-time Stanley Cup Champion just once in a 3-1 loss at the Bell Centre.

It marked the third straight loss for Claude Julien's troops, whose struggles on offense early on this season continue. Through four games so far this year, the Canadiens have scored just four times.

Things started off on the right foot when Tomas Plekanec picked up his first goal of the 2017-18 campaign just 75 seconds into the opening frame, but Crawford was simply unbeatable the rest of the way.

"There were a lot of looks. Of the four games, it was probably our best, but we're not looking for moral victories, we've got to win games," insisted captain Max Pacioretty, following the disappointing result in the home opener. "Three in a row is frustrating, especially when you can't put the puck in the net. We're putting pucks on net from everywhere. It seems like we're getting second and third chances, but we can't seem to find a way to bury them. That's what we're paid to do, so we have to find a way and quickly."

Video: Max Pacioretty on the loss to Chicago

Alex DeBrincat and Brandon Saad lit the lamp only 19 seconds apart in the latter stages of the first period to put Joel Quenneville's contingent ahead for good, before Artem Anisimov capped the scoring for Chicago with a power play marker just past the midway point of the middle stanza.

While the Canadiens desperately tried to claw back into the contest, it just didn't work. 

"We had good shots. We had good chances to start of the game. It's up to us, the guys on offense, to deliver," mentioned Jonathan Drouin, who led all Habs players with six shots on goal while logging 23:14 of ice time. "They have a good goaltender on the other side, but we have to put it in the net. Offensive players are paid to score. It's up to us to do it. We'll have to look at the video and improve."

Julien isn't about to press the proverbial panic button right now, though. The veteran bench boss is adamant that so long as the effort is there, the Canadiens will eventually right the ship.

"Everyone is feeling the pressure that comes with being unable to score goals, but it's going to come. We're going to keep on working with the goal of helping players get on track," mentioned Julien. "It's frustrating, but we can't forget the good things that we did [against Chicago]. You hope that with games like that, where you have that many chances and that many shots, that things are going to come and will finally take a turn for the better."

Video: Claude Julien's postgame press conference

Like Julien, Pacioretty is adamant that the squad's goal-scoring mojo will return sooner rather than later. Saturday night, of course, would be a good start with the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs coming to town for a classic matchup between the two Original Six rivals.

"There's still a lot of hockey to be played. Once they do go in, they'll come in bunches. But, we have to find a way to score to win games," said Pacioretty, before emphasizing the need for the Canadiens' special teams units to start clicking, too. "That game, in particular, going on a 5-on-3 up 1-0 - if we're able to put one in there, it's probably a different game. We've got to have that killer instinct to score in that situation. We've got to keep working on the power play because we haven't connected yet."

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