MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre.
Slow starts hurt fast
The Canadiens may have given themselves a chance to salvage a point with a goal late in the third period, but the players in the room after the game all agreed that they needed to come out stronger against the League's lowest-ranked team this season.
"Every team is a challenge; there are no easy nights in this League. You can say whatever you want, but if you don't play well enough, you're not going to win. And tonight, even though we had more shots, they were probably the better team," admitted Brendan Gallagher, who saw his five-game points streak come to an end on Saturday. "A lot of our chances were from the outside. We didn't get enough quality scoring chances, and we didn't bury them."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on a frustrating outcome
Gallagher's linemate, Phillip Danault, concurred with his right winger, and added that the Habs' penalty trouble - six minor infractions, to be exact - didn't help, either.
"They scored their second goal on the power play. It hurt for sure, but we have to find a way, even if we get caught with a penalty, to take the game," outlined Danault, who skated for 18:09 and registered three shots on goal. "I don't think we gave up despite that and I found we still had some good scoring chances, but I think they came out stronger than us in the first period."
Hunger for the great light
If a slow start was a symptom, the Canadiens' lack of hunger was the underlying cause for their losing outcome in the team's last home game of the decade.
"I don't think we went to the net enough. Yes, Jonathan Bernier played well, but we weren't there enough, we weren't hungry around the net," shared Danault of the Red Wings goalie, who stopped 42 shots. "What they did better was that they came out stronger than us, they had a lot of speed, they were hungry, and they had a better first period than us."
Video: Danault on a strong first period from the Wings
Head coach Claude Julien was of the same opinion as Danault, but in his view, it wasn't just in the goal-scoring department that his troops needed to show more drive.
"We missed good scoring chances, for sure. Give credit to the goalie on the other side, who was very good. But at the same time, we have to look at ourselves and ask what we could've done a bit better. In puck battles, we were more or less soft; we should've played a bit more hard. Eventually, when you play that way, you play with fire. We took three bad penalties in the offensive zone. Those were penalties. I didn't find that we were really on point tonight. We've been playing well on the road, but we have to improve at home. It's unacceptable that we're playing .500 at home."
Time for some Western redemption
The Canadiens will be traveling to Vancouver on Sunday to get ready for a four-game Western Canadian trip. They'll come home for Christmas and depart for Florida following the break, and they're looking forward to taking some time to bond, regroup, and finish off the calendar year on a high note.
"It's always nice to get on the road, get the guys together and spend more time together. We're looking forward to it," affirmed Tomas Tatar, who scored his team's lone goal of the night and extended his points streak to four games. It's going be really tough. Every road game is a battle, so it's going to be a tough seven games. Hopefully, we'll be ready for it."
Video: Tomas Tatar on the Habs' missed opportunities
The Habs face the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday, December 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET.