SAINT PAUL - The Canadiens didn't get off to a solid start on Thursday night and it proved costly in the end.
Claude Julien's troops dug themselves into an early hole and couldn't claw their way back against the Minnesota Wild, dropping a 6-3 decision at the Xcel Energy Center.
Bruce Boudreau's group came out firing as Matt Cullen and Nino Niederreiter lit the lamp 10 seconds apart just under five minutes into the opening frame, and things essentially went downhill from there.
Down 3-0 after the first period, Ryan Suter added another tally in the second period before the Canadiens finally responded with a goal of their own courtesy of Brendan Gallagher - the first of his two on the night.
Video: MTL@MIN: Gallagher beats Dubnyk on the backhand
But, Julien's squad never really did get within striking distance as Minnesota's offense continued to roll.
"We don't want to fall behind, especially on teams like that who are able to play strong defensively and kind of lock it down and make life hard on you once they have the lead," said captain Max Pacioretty, following the defeat that snapped the Canadiens' two-game winning streak. "It's obviously not the game plan and we've got to find ways to be better from the start."
It certainly wasn't the first time this season that the Canadiens found themselves in the unenviable position of being forced to play from behind early on.
Gallagher was quick to express his frustration in that department.
"There's no reason to explain it. It's just unacceptable. It should never happen. We've got to be mentally tougher and that's about being sharp when the puck drops. It's disappointing that we haven't learned the lesson yet. You can't afford to fall behind in games like we have and expect to win," mentioned Gallagher, before placing some of the blame for another poor start on himself.
"It falls on the leaders of this hockey team to step up and do the job. I put that on myself. You've been in those situations long enough, you played a big game last game but it doesn't matter if you come in here tonight and be down 3-0 that early. There's no excuse for it. It's just disappointing," added Gallagher.
After surrendering five goals on 26 shots, Carey Price was equally disappointed with the way things played out in Minnesota this time around.
While avoiding frustration is proving tough for the All-World netminder, he remains committed to getting his game back on track.
Video: MTL@MIN: Price makes terrific sliding save
"It's definitely a battle, but I know how to get through it. I'm not concerned about it," said Price. "I'm just trying to stay positive and stick to the process. That's what makes you successful. That's all you can do, just try and keep going."
Always quick to come to his goaltender's defense, Gallagher reiterated that it's up to the players in front of Price to perform at a far higher level going forward if they hope to right the ship in the long run.
"It's on us to limit those opportunities [in front of Carey]. I think they're getting too many chances from prime scoring areas and we've got to be better in front of our goalie," stressed Gallagher. "He saved and bailed us out so many times that we're definitely not looking to him to rescue us now. I think we've just got to be better as a team."