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SJS@MTL: About Thursday night...

Penalty killing proved to be a problem for the Canadiens again versus San Jose

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

MONTREAL - Here are a few key storylines from Thursday night's 4-2 loss to the Sharks at the Bell Centre.

Short-handed struggles

The Canadiens' penalty kill proved to be a weak spot again versus San Jose.

The Sharks scored twice with the man advantage, with both goals coming courtesy of left-winger Evander Kane.

Peter DeBoer's squad went 2-for-5 on the power play, dropping the Habs' success rate while short-handed to just under 68% on the season.

Video: MTL Recap: Cousins, Armia score in 4-2 loss

That ranks them among the worst teams in the League in that department, which definitely doesn't sit well with head coach Claude Julien.

Following the loss, the veteran bench boss was adamant that things have to change in short order.

"Our penalty kill wasn't good enough. It didn't take them long to score. We're either missing assignments, or we're not clearing pucks, or we're too busy cross-checking guys in front of the net and looking for the puck," said Julien, who has watched his group surrender a League-high 11 power play goals through 10 games. "There are a lot of things that will be addressed [on Friday] at practice. I think it's time here that certain things have to be clearly defined, and I'll make sure that happens."

Like Julien, captain Shea Weber stressed the need to right the ship in short-handed situations.

He's equally frustrated by the ease with which the Canadiens' opposition is lighting the lamp under those circumstances.

"It's just got to be better. It's a continuous thing. We want it to be better," insisted Weber. "We're not sitting here saying it's good enough. We're going to continue to work on it at practice, look at the video, and the change is going to come for the positive and it's going to make a difference for our team."

Video: Shea Weber on improving the penalty kill

For his part, goaltender Carey Price is disappointed with the way things have played out in front of him when the Canadiens find themselves in penalty trouble.

"Power plays are finding seams and banging in trash," mentioned Price. "We have to regroup and figure it out."

Thunderstruck again...

Surrendering goals in the latter stages of periods is also cause for concern right now.

Kane's first goal came with just 55 seconds remaining in the first period, and it zapped all momentum the Canadiens seized from Nick Cousins' first tally in a Habs uniform that opened the scoring on Thursday night.

Video: SJS@MTL: Cousins puts home his own rebound for lead

Right-winger Melker Karlsson added another late-period tally in the middle frame, scoring with just 36 seconds to go before the intermission to put the Sharks up 4-1.

Needless to say, that also left Julien with a bitter taste in his mouth.

"I think it's pretty evident that we weren't on point. There are things that we have to keep improving. It's frustrating," admitted Julien. "We have a team capable of doing better, and that's what we have to work to accomplish."

Jonathan Drouin noted that the Canadiens have been plagued by this same issue before, and it really does sting.

"You can't hide it. You come in the room after giving up a goal like that and it hurts. We have to move forward. It can easily change a game," said Drouin. "It cost us a couple of times so far this season, and it happened again tonight."

When asked about the impact of late-period markers on the group as a whole, Price responded rather bluntly.

"It's definitely not ideal," said Price, following his 19-save effort. "It's a buzzkill, for sure."

The streak continues

This marks the Canadiens' ninth straight loss to the Sharks. Their last win against the California-based franchise came back on March 21, 2015.

It's worth noting that Julien's contingent outshot San Jose by a 37-23 margin on the night, but goaltender Aaron Dell wasn't in a giving mood in between the pipes.

According to Julien, though, his players didn't necessarily push Dell to the limit.

"Did we get some chances? Absolutely. We had lots of chances, even in the third period. We don't bury them. They didn't get that many chances, but they buried them. We didn't," explained Julien. "There are times when you need to lift the puck up and you're shooting at their pads. We need to be better. We had some great chances from the slot. We missed the net. You can't miss the net when you're shooting from the slot."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Papa avait raison.Baby shark wins. 😖#GoHabsGo

Failing to click on the power play wasn't a recipe for success either. The Canadiens went 0-for-3 in that area. It was only the second time this season they were held without a power play goal.

"They managed to defend our power play, and we weren't able to defend theirs," specified Julien. "It's up to us to handle the situation a lot better than we did tonight."

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