TAMPA - Here are a few key storylines from Saturday night's 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.
Sunken by the second
After an excellent start to the game, Claude Julien's troops suffered through a tough second period, and it was one that would end up costing them the game.
The Canadiens headed to the room with a 2-1 lead after 20, but the Lightning managed to score three in the second period on their way to a 5-4 win.
The Habs head coach acknowledged that this game was decided in the middle frame.
"We played an excellent first period, but the goal at the end of the period gave them some momentum," explained Julien during his postgame press conference. "They came out much stronger in the second period, and that's where most of the damage was done.
Video: Claude Julien's postgame press conference in Tampa
Carey Price had a busy night, stopping 25 of 30 shots, and admitted that Tampa Bay was a much different team to start the second.
"They regrouped. They came back in the second a lot better team," explained Price. "They regrouped and played a pretty solid second."
Video: Carey Price on the second period
For his part, youngster Jesperi Kotkaniemi was making his return after sitting out since December 5. Kotkaniemi marked the occasion in the best possible way, by scoring Montreal's first goal of the night.
Still, the 19-year-old pivot wasn't thrilled with his team's performance in the second.
"We started well and we were sleeping the whole second period," outlined Kotkaniemi. "I think that's what cost us the game tonight."
Video: Jesperi Kotkaniemi on his first game back
Setting the tone with their start
Despite the loss, it's worth noting that the Canadiens had an excellent start to the game. The Lightning only managed their first shot on goal with 7:35 to go in the opening frame.
Before they did, the Habs tested goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy 18 times and beat him twice.
Montreal would've liked to keep that rhythm going for the rest of the game, however.
"The first period, we played the exact game we wanted to. We were skating, we were moving the puck, we were playing strong defensively. And then in the second period, we didn't do those things," shared Jeff Petry. "We weren't skating as well as we were in the first, and they got better in the second. We got away from what was working for us in the first."
Video: Jeff Petry on the loss to Tampa Bay
The Canadiens also forfeited a 2-0 lead, and after the game, center Phillip Danault pointed out how important it would be for his team to preserve the lead next time around.
"We said we wanted to have a good first period, and we did We had a good start to the game," recounted Danault. "We just have to find a way to play with the lead."
Video: Phillip Danault on the Habs' start
New milestones reached
Several Canadiens players hit new milestones in the loss.
First off, Domi extended his goal-scoring streak to four games, and he also reached the 10-goal mark for the third time in his career.
Nick Suzuki, meanwhile, earned a helper on Domi's first-period tally to collect his 20th point of the season. The 20-year-old rookie became the sixth rookie to do so this season.
Danault assisted on Ben Chiarot's goal in the second period, lifting him to the 30-point plateau for the third time in his career.
With his fifth of the campaign, Chiarot tied his career high for goals. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound rearguard lit the lamp five times in 78 games last season with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Canadiens are back in action on Sunday night, when they take on the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.