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Killer Instinct

Habs allow three goals in final frame after holding Canes to just eight shots through 40

by Stefan Nechay @canadiensmtl /

RALEIGH -- The Habs saw 40 minutes of solid hockey spoiled over the span of 5:50 on Friday.

Entering the final frame perfect not only on the scoresheet, but also when leading after two this season, the Canadiens let the Hurricanes hang around just long enough to negate both bids.

"We had enough chances to win this hockey game, but you can't come out and allow three goals in the third period like that and expect to win. We've got to play smarter than that," acknowledged Brendan Gallagher, who saw Jeff Skinner give the Canes the equalizer at 3:12 in the third, before Teuvo Teravainen scored a go-ahead goal at 7:43 and Victor Rask notched the game-winner at 9:02. "We did a good job of shutting them down, but then they got a couple of bounces and the puck went in the net. We spent too much time in our own end -- we're capable of playing better."

Indeed, seeing that streak of wins snapped when entering the final frame ahead might have been what stung most after outshooting Carolina 33-18.

"Whenever you're going into the third period with a lead, you want to lock it down. That's what good teams do," underlined Gallagher. "For the most part we've been good at it this year -- just not tonight."

But while consecutive one-goal losses can be frustrating -- the Habs fell to the Panthers in OT on Wednesday -- the play of a Friday's newest Hab was among the bright spots in the effort.

Entering just his fourth NHL game following his call up on Thursday, Charles Hudon improved his career point total to three after setting up Jeff Petry's second-period tally.

"It's been a busy two days after leaving Rochester in a hurry last night. Even though I arrived early in the morning and there was no pregame skate, I still feel like I performed well," admitted Hudon, whose nine goals with the IceCaps led the AHL at the time of his call up. "I concentrated on the little things, like I have been doing in St. John's. It was an otherwise good night for me."

In addition to picking up an assist in his 2016-17 debut, the 22-year-old also registered two shots on goal while dishing out four hits -- second to just Andrew Shaw in the latter category.

"As the game went on, the more comfortable I felt on the ice," continued the Alma, QC native, whose three previous games with the Canadiens came a season ago. "It was a bit like last year in that sense."

And just like last year, the burgeoning NHLer has once again made a good first impression on his teammates.

"[Hudon] played really well and showed a lot of poise," dished captain Max Pacioretty, who finished the night tied with former Hurricanes forward Chris Terry with three shots on goal. "I think when guys are coming up from the minors and they're dominating like I heard he is right now, they come up with some confidence. He showed that, especially on that goal off the wall [he set up]."

But along with the praise came some words of wisdom for the up-and-coming winger heading into the weekend.

"These are all learning experiences," stressed Pacioretty, as the team now prepares to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. "We haven't faced too much adversity this year, but obviously tonight is an example of some. We're just thankful that we get to play tomorrow and respond in the right way."

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