DETROIT -- Playing during office hours, it was the Habs offense that had a case of the Mondays in Detroit.
And it wasn't for a lack of chances, either, as the Canadiens fired 18 shots on goal -- many of them dangerous -- en route to being shutout for just the second time this season.
"We had a couple of Grade A shots on goal. I can think of [Alex Galchenyuk's chance] and mine, plus [Nathan Beaulieu] hit the post... Maybe if we had put one of those in, we could have turned things around, but it just wasn't the case tonight.," acknowledged captain Max Pacioretty, who led the team with four shots. "It was a hard-fought game and I think we played hard for 60. It wasn't perfect -- no game is -- but I like the way we competed until the end. I thought our line had a ton of offensive zone time. We were looking for a bounce, but didn't seem to get it."
Indeed, Nathan Beaulieu even thought he had found the equalizer on an open net, but instead rang the puck off the crossbar.
Maybe Garfield was right about Mondays after all, as the Habs are now 1-3 this season when playing on the cartoon cat's least favorite day of the week..
"I got all of it [on that shot]. I thought it went out of play too -- I didn't know where it went after. The D-man was kind of screening their goalie and I just shot for the left side of the net. That's the way it goes sometimes," admitted the 24-year-old, who led all defensemen with two hits. " In the third period too, I ripped one and it hit [Alexander Radulov]'s stick, then missed by inches. That's hockey, but we'll be alright and I'm sure we'll bounce back."
On the bright side, the Canadiens put forth a solid defensive effort in the Motor City after allowing seven and four goals, respectively, to Minnesota and New York in their last two outings. On Monday, the Red Wings were held to just 20 shots and found the back of the net only once.
"I think we were just paying attention in the D zone, and guys were really aware of where to be. I think it was just a good defensive effort from both sides," explained Mark Barberio, who added a hit and a shot to his season tallies, over 20:45 of ice time. "Neither team gave up a lot through the neutral zone. The one goal that went in was just a point shot that I think was going wide -- I think it hit a leg [on the way in]. It was just one of those games."
After alternating between offensive and defensive marathons -- the Habs lost 4-1 against Washington before putting up seven in Winnipeg, then lost 7-1 in Minnesota before scoring five against the Rangers -- the key now will be finding the right mix of both.
"We've got to give them credit, they did a great job of slowing us down. They played a really tight neutral zone and didn't let us get pucks back. Tonight it just seemed like we didn't have enough speed like we normally do," added Paul Byron, who was held to a single hit at Joe Louis Arena. "We really wanted to tighten up [defensively] because we've been giving up a lot of chances lately. We've been making it really hard on Carey in nets, because we know he can't save us with incredible stops every night. Now we've just got to tie our defensive game and our offensive game all in one. We've got to go out there and create more chances. Tonight we just didn't have it."
The Habs played a rare afternoon game in Detroit, as it was a holiday Monday -- Martin Luther King Day -- for hockey fans in the United States.
If hockey players are creatures of habit, then the odd start time paid the Canadiens no favors on the road.
"It was a weird game to play at 3:00 p.m., and I thought we were lacking a bit at first, but after that I thought we were alright," concluded Beaulieu following the second of six matinees the Canadiens will take part in this year. "It's tough to wake up early and try to get the legs going early. We play a couple of 3:00 p.m. games a year, but it's no excuse -- they had to do it too."