ANAHEIM - The Canadiens were hoping to right the ship in Orange County on Friday night. Unfortunately, things didn't play out that way.
Claude Julien's troops surrendered three goals in the first period and another three in the third, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.
That extended the Canadiens' winless streak to seven games, as they fell to 1-6-1 on the season.
Even though the margin of victory was big, Julien's contingent did make a game of it in the middle frame when they set a franchise record for the most shots in a single period with 30 and scored twice to cut the Ducks' lead to a single goal at 3-2. But, they simply couldn't keep that momentum going in the third when Anaheim tallied three more times in a span of 97 seconds to put the game out of reach for good.
"To be quite honest, it's a shame on us. It's our job to play 60 minutes. There's no excuse to be behind the pace of play in the first, play a good second period, and then come out in the third and just not have it. There's no excuse for that," said Brendan Gallagher, who scored his second goal of the year in the loss, following up a tally by Paul Byron. "That's on us as a team. It's on us as leaders. If we're going to start winning games, we have to start looking at ourselves in the mirror and understand that it's not just going to happen for us. We're not going to win many games if we don't figure it out."
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The fact that the Canadiens did play so well in the second period - outshooting the Ducks 30-10 - made their third straight regulation defeat in California particularly hard to swallow.
"It's more frustrating because it just shows that we're capable of doing it, but then I don't know what it is, if we get too comfortable. There are just too many lulls in our pace of play right now," explained Gallagher, who accounted for five of the Canadiens' season-high 51 shots on Ducks starter John Gibson. "For us to be successful, there are too many good teams, too many good players in this league, and you can't afford to take a shift off. We've learned that lesson a couple of times."
Veteran rearguard Karl Alzner was simply at a loss to explain what has gone wrong as of late.
"I don't think I've seen anything quite like it before. A little lapse in focus, maybe, and we're getting bit pretty bad," said Alzner, bitterly disappointed with the results so far with his new club. "We're sick of losing… It's always tough coming out here [to California], but the way we lost the three games, it's been not very fun hockey."
So, where do the Canadiens go from here with another busy week ahead on home ice against the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers?
"It's just about playing with more heart, more determination and just more pride," shared Alzner. "When things aren't going well, we just need to work and have a lot of pride in our games, our teammates, the logo, and just play harder."