MONTREAL - After watching his group fall to the Sabres in overtime on Thursday night, head coach Claude Julien didn't mince words about the Canadiens' performance during his postgame press conference.
"I'm going to use the word 'sloppy.' It's just as simple as that. We're missing the same engagement that we had earlier in the year," said Julien, following the 6-5 defeat at the Bell Centre. "It's been like that for a few games now that we're sliding a bit defensively. It takes a lot better engagement than we're seeing lately. Whether it be errors or failing to come back defensively, there are small details in our game that demand us to be more assertive. That's what we're missing right now."
Video: Claude Julien's postgame press conference vs. BUF
It marked the first time this season that the Habs dropped back-to-back contests after losing earlier in the week to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Julien's players were in complete agreement with the veteran bench boss when asked to comment on where things have been going wrong as of late.
Shortcomings on the defensive side of the game were deemed the culprit.
"The forwards have a huge role in our end. We've got to close up on plays, shut them down before they can get things started and before they can get their speed. We didn't do that," said Andrew Shaw, who snapped a 10-game goal drought on Thursday night with his second tally of the season. "We gave them too much room and they skated around us… I just think we were loose in our own end as a five-man unit. It's something we need to clean up."
Video: Andrew Shaw on the need to be better defensively
That process will undoubtedly get underway when the Habs return to practice on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex with a big tilt against the Vegas Golden Knights on the horizon on Saturday.
"It's important for us to come back on Saturday and play a solid game," mentioned Julien. "We need to stop that [lacking engagement] as soon as possible. That's what we have to focus on starting now."
A first for Peca
Matthew Peca scored his first goal in a Canadiens uniform on Thursday night and registered an assist, too.
Video: BUF@MTL: Peca banks puck off Ullmark's pad
It goes without saying that Peca would have preferred to light the lamp in a winning effort, but he was pleased nonetheless to finally put the puck in the back of the net in his 15th game with the Habs.
"It was a good feeling, obviously," said Peca. "You don't expect it to take as long as it did, but it wasn't the result we wanted. It was a good feeling, but at the end of the day, we wanted to win."
Domi just keeps on rolling
Max Domi isn't showing any signs of slowing down right now, and the 23-year-old centerman was up to his usual tricks against the Sabres.
This time around, Domi dazzled the Bell Centre faithful with his passing ability, collecting three assists and matching his single-game high in the process.
First, there was this beautiful feed to Jonathan Drouin.
Video: BUF@MTL: Drouin buries great pass from Domi
Then, he picked up the secondary assist on Shaw's goal.
Video: BUF@MTL: Shaw buries loose puck in the crease
Finally, he collected another highlight-reel helper on Tomas Tatar's goal.
Video: BUF@MTL: Domi sets up Tatar on odd-man rush
Domi now leads the Canadiens with 19 points (9g - 10a) through 16 games, five points clear of Tatar.
Points aside, though, Domi wasn't at all happy with Thursday night's end result.
"We were expected to make plays out there, and we did that through little glimpses of the game. But, as a whole again, we went into the third period with a lead and let the other team back into it," said Domi. "We've got to take that and get ready to go for the next game. We have to definitely address some things."