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MTL@NYR: Work to be done

Habs look to improve offence following 2-0 loss in New York

by Steven Nechay @canadiensmtl /

NEW YORK -- The Canadiens looked to have sparked their scoring on Sunday, except…

With goals at a premium so far in 2017-18, the Habs were aiming for a quick start on Sunday, and for a moment -- make that two -- they looked to have found it.

More precisely, Phillip Danault appeared to have potted his second goal of the season at 6:24 in the first, until video review revealed a kicking motion to call the play off.

Then, less than five minutes later, it was Max Pacioretty who ignited a premature celebration, when a coach's challenge by the Rangers eventually found goaltender interference on his scoring sequence.

"I think they were good calls. If we disagreed with the calls it would have been frustrating," admitted the Habs captain. "We're getting pucks on net, but as nice as it is to look at the shot clock and have a lot of shots, I think Pittsburgh proved last year that making plays, and making the goalie move is how you win games."

Indeed, there has been no shortage of shots for Montreal early on this year as the team has tested opposing goaltenders 30-plus times in each of their outings to date.

But those shots have produced a total of three goals in the season's first three games -- including one at even-strength.

"There's no consolation in effort. We should always have a strong effort," continued Pacioretty, who fired a pair of shots at Henrik Lundqvist. "The chances were there, and we had the shots, but it's not enough to get the puck on the net. You need to get the puck in the net."

And so a would-be 2-0 lead instead became a 2-0 loss in the Big Apple.

"It's only two games here where things haven't been perfect, so we won't get frustrated," underlined the American winger, as the Habs head home with two points in the bank. "We're staying positive, but at the same time, everybody should have the mindset of working on their game right now."

In terms of what to build off of next, head coach Claude Julien saw some encouraging signs on both sides of the puck, despite the loss.

"Defensively, we were more solid. We saw progress in that area," described the Habs bench boss, who now begins planning to receive the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in Montreal. "[On offence], we're lacking finish. We had chances, but we couldn't couldn't find the back of the net. We were getting into their zone, but leaving empty-handed each time."

Added assistant captain Tomas Plekanec:

"I think offensively, it's there. We've just got to do better and keep working at it, and it's going to turn around."

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