MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks at the Bell Centre.
Keeping up with the Canucks
The Canadiens were facing a high-flying Canucks team that was coming off a decisive 9-3 win over the League-best Boston Bruins on Saturday, but that didn't intimidate them.
Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Vancouver - which is battling Vegas for first in the Pacific with Edmonton, Calgary, and Arizona not far behind - but trouble with special teams and some bad bounces allowed the Canucks to find their way back into the contest.
"It was a pretty good game, for the most part. We had a great start. They called a timeout, they started pushing after that," described Brendan Gallagher, who was held off the scoresheet despite recording four shots on goal. "I thought they did a pretty good job of maintaining shifts in our end. We didn't break; it was a pretty even game."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on the overtime loss
For his part, Paul Byron doesn't believe this loss fits with the pattern that has cost his club a few too many times in 2019-20, noting that the Habs' difficulty containing the Canucks' power play played a big role in the defeat.
"I don't think this one was like our other games. I thought our team continued to attack. We didn't sit back and let the team go hammer us in the second and third period. I thought we played a great game, we played aggressively. Our P.K. just didn't get the job done for us tonight. We gave up two big goals to their power play," admitted Byron. "Special teams are so important in this League. We lost the game because of it tonight."
Video: Paul Byron on playing with Max Domi
Byron-Domi-Weal line delivers the goods
Byron was the recipient of a magnificent cross-ice pass from Max Domi, which helped him score his second goal in as many games. It was just one highlight from a line - with Jordan Weal rounding out the trio - that played cohesively and generated much in the way of offense on Tuesday.
"What we saw from that line was that they were creating a lot of chances offensively," praised head coach Claude Julien. "You have Paul Byron who skated to the net, you had Weal who played a good game - he went to the net, too."
Domi may not have lit the lamp himself, but he looked hungry for the chance to do so and his elite stickhandling and skating - with a trademark bit of sandpaper mixed in - was on full display.
"He's playing hard; he's playing really well. We've had some chemistry playing together and he's a fun guy to play with," shared Byron of Domi, who also set up Weal's third-period goal and logged a game-high five shots on goal. "He's engaged, he skates. He has a really high hockey IQ and right now, he's playing good hockey for us."
Weal, meanwhile, returned to the lineup after being scratched in Ottawa and scored - the fifth time this season he's tallied after watching from the press box. When asked if he had taken his game to another level in light of the team's recent trade deadline departures and the resulting openings in the lineup, the North Vancouver native said it's been status quo when it comes to his mindset.
"I've been doing that for the last two months. Every time I've come into the lineup, I've done stuff, no matter who it's with. I think I've been doing that since before Christmas, so I just have to keep doing what I'm doing," explained Weal, who netted his seventh of the season. "I'm preparing the right way off the ice, getting my body ready to go out there and play. When I get a chance to play with Pauly and Max... We've got so much speed out there and it makes it a lot of fun to play."
Overtime: Stuck in a moment
Despite getting the go-ahead goal from Weal early in the final frame, the Habs gave up a second power play goal to the Canucks just over five minutes later, setting the stage for an overtime finish.
In the extra frame, Domi, Byron, and Jeff Petry got stuck in their own end and had to deal with some sustained pressure from Vancouver until Tyler Toffoli sent it home.
"It was kind of a scramble. They got a little lucky with possession in overtime," recounted Carey Price, who stopped 30 shots in the loss. "They got us tired out there."
Video: Carey Price on the open ice in overtime
While Julien thought that his troops didn't offer up a perfect performance, he was satisfied with the work they put in nonetheless.
"The loss happened for certain reasons, whether it was mistakes or whatever, but I think the attitude was good and the effort was there. We had some trouble with puck management tonight," concluded the coach. "On the overtime goal, we got caught with tired players on the ice, and that's what happens."
The Canadiens return to practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday. Their next game is on Thursday against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre. For tickets, click here.