SUNRISE - Here are a few key storylines from Sunday night's 6-5 loss to the Panthers at the BB&T Center.
Tough start and some struggles on defense
A rather disappointing start to the game didn't help the Canadiens' cause versus Florida. Claude Julien's players dug themselves a 2-0 hole just seven minutes into the first period.
During a team meeting prior to the contest, the veteran bench boss emphasized to his team the importance of playing a tight defensive game.
"We addressed the situation this morning, but it doesn't seem like it made a big difference. When you score nine goals in two games, you should be able to get some points," mentioned Julien during his postgame press conference. "Unfortunately, we traded scoring chances with the other team and we aren't in a position to do that. It's important to play a lot tighter defensively."
Video: Claude Julien's postgame press conference @ FLA
Julien's troops were in complete agreement following another tough loss to a division rival.
The Canadiens have to do better to support goaltender Carey Price.
"We need to tighten things up. We're giving up too many goals. We have to get back to basics and help Carey," explained Tomas Tatar, who scored his 16th goal of the season during the opening frame. "We have to be able to win a road game when we score four or five goals."
For his part, captain Shea Weber insisted on emphasizing the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.
He made a point of stressing the Canadiens' resiliency again.
"We didn't play well defensively, but there are some positives. We managed to fight back," said Weber. "But we can't play this way if we want to be successful."
Suzuki continues to impress
Despite the loss, Nick Suzuki probably played his best game to date in the NHL ranks.
The 20-year-old rookie picked up three assists against the Panthers. It was the first three-point game of his young career.
The London, ON native also extended his point streak to five games in the process. Suzuki has one goal and seven helpers during that stretch.
In addition to registering his name on the scoresheet on multiple occasions, Suzuki was utilized time and again on special teams. He spent 2:10 on the ice while the Canadiens were short-handed, and 2:55 on the ice in power play situations.
Suzuki also logged a career-high 19:48 of ice time, too.
And his performance didn't go unnoticed.
"Nick played very well. Like I've always said, he's a guy who's getting better as the season continues," stressed Julien.
While Suzuki was pleased with his game, he would've preferred coming away with a victory in the Sunshine State.
"I thought things were clicking offensively for me. I managed to find the open guys, but I still think I could've done more. I could've put the puck in the net a few times," explained Suzuki, who has seven goals and 23 points this season. "It's good to get three assists, but I would've preferred a win."
One more game in 2019
The Canadiens will close out the 2019 calendar year with a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Julien's squad will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
The two teams will square off on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at PNC Arena in Raleigh.