MONTREAL -- The Canadiens' third-period magic fell just short against the Blackhawks on Tuesday.
Already the league-leaders in wins when trailing after two periods, for a moment, late goals from Paul Byron and Shea Weber made it look like the Habs would add an eleventh W to that category, until a Jonathan Toews empty-netter sealed the deal for Chicago.
Video: CHI@MTL: Weber one-times Galchenyuk's smart dish
"We did a lot of good things. I thought we had some really good chances, but their goaltender played well," acknowledged Weber, who scored his 16th of the season to cut Hawks lead to one with under four minutes to go. "They capitalized on the chances they had, so we've got to take the positives out of tonight, and get ready for Ottawa."
Indeed, there were a number of positives to take away as Montreal led Chicago in nearly every column on the box score, except the one which mattered most.
Case in point, the Habs outhit and outdrew the Hawks, while taking over 40 shots on goal -- including 18 in the final frame alone -- but couldn't find the equalizer with time winding down.
"We played well, but you can tell when someone's in the zone and truly wants to score, as opposed to being content with getting the chance and putting it on net," stressed captain Max Pacioretty. "That killer instinct is the difference between good and great players. The guys who are able to score those goals change from game-to-game, but you've got to have that killer instinct as a team every night."
One Hab who has shown that instinct as of late has been Byron, who now counts five goals in his last six games, and sparked the late-game flurries against Chicago and Edmonton in Montreal's two most recent outings.
Video: CHI@MTL: Byron chips rebound over Crawford
"Everybody's got to start contributing goals. You can see once we get that first goal, how dominant we can be offensively," described the 27-year-old, whose opening tally was followed by Weber's marker less than four minutes later. "It's just getting that first goal that's taking us too long. We can't wait until the end of third periods to start going. We need to go to the blue paint and get some traffic in front of the net, because you're not always going to score pretty goals, especially at this time of year."
As to what the hold-up is in terms of finding the back of the net these days?
"I don't know. We're working hard and we don't give up," continued Byron. "We're all trying hard, we're all doing the right things -- it's just a matter of getting one. When we do, it seems like the whole team feeds off of it and then more come after that. We've just got to focus on getting that first one earlier."
And so back to the positives.
"We did a lot of good things and we don't want to get discouraged," underlined Weber, as the Habs now have three days to prepare for crucial back-to-back games against the Senators this weekend. "There were times this year when we won and didn't deserve to, so maybe we deserved a better fate tonight, but that's the way it goes. If we keep playing well and doing the right things, we'll be successful."