WASHINGTON -- Sunday's second game in less than 24 hours comes at an opportune time.
Three games in four nights is always a tough way to start the season, to be sure, but following a one-sided loss in Washington on Saturday, it can also be called a blessing in disguise.
"The good news is we play tomorrow, and hopefully we can play with much more energy and desperation, because we got outworked tonight," underlined captain Max Pacioretty following a 6-1 decision at Capital One Arena.
Indeed, any reason for the Habs to get their minds off of a night when the game-winner was scored just 46 seconds into the opening frame -- followed by another 125 seconds later to make it 3-0 -- is a welcome one.
"They've got good players on their side, but you can't spot a team a three-goal lead in the first three minutes of a game and expect to win," described Gallagher, who scored the Habs' only goal on Saturday -- shorthanded in the second. "I thought there were times when we pushed back, but it's unacceptable to start [a game] that way, and we learned a tough lesson."
Video: MTL@WSH: Gallagher buries feed for shorthanded goal
That lesson is as follows, according to the assistant captain.
"You have to start on time. You can't give up a goal on your first shift, and then another on your next one. [The shift after an opening goal] is one of the most important shifts in the game -- you have to find a way to win momentum back," continued the 25-year-old. "It's early on in the season, so there's definitely no panic, but we know we owe it to ourselves to be better than this."
No panic, and no finger pointing either, among a Habs squad which features a number of new faces this year -- especially on defense.
"We're all professionals, and we're all in the NHL, so it shouldn't be an issue. We need to be able to play with one another, no matter who it is every night," stressed Shea Weber. "You've got to be able to play with another guy if you have to, and we've got to be better."
Former Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, meanwhile, assessed the situation with a relatively fresh pair of eyes, following his second game as a Hab -- and first as a visitor at Capital One Arena.
"There are a few little things that need to be fixed. We need better puck support from everybody. Not just the forwards, either -- it goes from the D to the forwards to the goalie," outlined Alzner, who was greeted with an ovation by the Capitals faithful during a brief on-ice ceremony. "We just need to be a little better all over the ice. We've got to give [Washington] credit over there. They forced us into a lot of things we didn't want to be doing, and took away the time we would've liked to have."
Video: MTL@WSH: Price denies Oshie up front with his pad
"But it's not back to the drawing board, it's just figuring out what our drawing is," clarified the 10-year NHL vet. "We know it, but just haven't put it all together yet. It's going to come soon, it was just a bad display tonight."
So back to silver linings.
"We've still got a chance here to make this a pretty good road trip, all things considered, if we can win a hockey game tomorrow," concluded Gallagher, as the Habs can still head home with four out of six points Sunday night. "It's not going to be easy, but we're going to have to play a lot better than this."