MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre.
Sunken in the second
The Canadiens scored first - and early in the game, no less - and seemed like a team that had a good chance of beating the No. 1 squad in the NHL… until the second period came along, that is.
"In the first period, we take a 1-0 lead. We have a chance to extend it, and we don't bury our chances so they get themselves back into the game. But the second period was a real sloppy period," admitted head coach Claude Julien, who saw his troops get outshot 15-9 in the middle frame. "We have a no-quit attitude, which I think everybody saw in the third period. We work hard, and we try and get ourselves back; I think the intentions are good, but we need to be better than we were tonight without the puck, or even with the puck at times. Our sloppiness cost us games, and we can't afford to be sloppy."
Defenseman Jeff Petry, the author of that early-game goal at the 1:55 mark of the first, admitted that a bit of rust between the ears might have led to some sub-par decision making in the Habs' first game back after their week off.
"We were coming off the break, not being on the ice for a while, and then trying to force plays or making the extra pass," outlined Petry, who skated for 21:07, registering four shots on goal, three hits, and one blocked shot. "We were doing things that when you're sharp, it's still a 50/50 play. It's just a matter of making the smart play and making the right decisions."
Video: Jeff Petry on the Habs' lapses in the second
The big 5-0-0 for Weise
Forward Dale Weise, who started the season with the AHL's Laval Rocket, suited up for his 500th NHL game on Monday. The gritty winger was fully appreciative of the support he got from fans for reaching the milestone and could not have been happier that he got to do it in Montreal.
"It's amazing. No surprise, this has been my favorite place to play in all the places I've been. The fans here are unbelievable. Even going through a tough time like we are now, they get up, they cheer, we score," described Weise, now in his 10th season in the League. "They start cheering at the end when we're making a push. There are no secrets about it, I think we have the best fans in the world here."
Weise got to celebrate the milestone in style, as he scored Montreal's second goal of the night after Nick Suzuki found him open in the crease in front of Braden Holtby.
"That's a chapter in the book for sure. It's been a long road to get here. To play 500 games is a pretty good accomplishment in this League. For a guy that's scrapped his way in and grinded his way, that's something I'm extremely proud of. And to get a goal, obviously, that's memorable," affirmed Weise, who scored the 55th goal of his career. "But it's a team game; I would've appreciated a win tonight."
Video: Dale Weise on his 500th career game
Park it and keep pushing
Indeed, a win would've gone a long way towards the Canadiens' quest for a playoff spot. And while the loss certainly didn't help in any way, that doesn't mean they're giving up hope.
"We have to believe in here. I think every guy does. It's a matter of everybody in here coming together and just making sure that we play the right way, and get on a run," explained Petry. "We've done it in spurts this season; we just have to repeat that and have a strong finish."
Marco Scandella earned an assist on Petry's opening goal. And though the Montreal native would've liked to celebrate his first point as a Hab, he was more concerned with the task at hand.
"It felt good. But at this time of the year, it's the two points that count. It wasn't good enough tonight, but we have a chance to get back on track in Buffalo," stated Scandella. "I'm coming from Buffalo, and we have to win that game. We lost two points tonight, but the next game is a must-win."
Video: Marco Scandella on the loss to the Capitals
The Canadiens practice at the Bell Sports Complex at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Their next game is on Thursday night against the Sabres in Buffalo.