COLUMBUS - The Canadiens simply couldn't generate much of anything on Friday night, and they paid a hefty price for it on the scoreboard as a result.
For the first time in nearly 24 years, a Canadiens squad surrendered 10 goals to the opposition in a single game, as
Michel Therrien's troops dropped a 10-0 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
The loss snapped the Canadiens' winning streak at eight straight games and marked the first time all year that they'd suffered a defeat in regulation time.
John Tortorella's contingent scored three goals in the first period and five goals in the second period, before adding another two goals to their tally in the final frame. Columbus' top-ranked power play lit the lamp on four occasions, as 16 Blue Jackets players chipped in to register their names on the scoresheet.
Al Montoya, meanwhile, surrendered all 10 goals on 40 total shots against.
"It's frustrating. We've done a lot of good things lately. It hasn't been perfect. I think the reason why we've won so many games is because we stuck together and played for one another. We left Monty out to dry," admitted captain Max Pacioretty, visibly dissatisfied with the result in the Canadiens' 11th outing of the season. "That's what's frustrating, because we pride ourselves on being such a close group. To leave our goalie out to dry like that is very frustrating."
Brendan Gallagher shared that sense of frustration in the aftermath of the Canadiens' second sub-par performance in a row. Back on Wednesday night, though, they found a way to best the Vancouver Canucks despite being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin and giving the puck away repeatedly. This time, however, a comeback from such a serious deficit early on wasn't going to be erased and ultimately overcome.
"I think everyone was ready to compete. I just don't think we're playing as smart as we need to be. We're tough to play against because we make the right decisions with the puck. We fed the transition game right into their hands. We made a lot of mistakes early and everyone in here feels bad for Monty. He's an unbelievable teammate. No one wanted to leave him out to dry like that. Unfortunately, we did," admitted Gallagher, before putting Friday night's loss into perspective given the adversity the Canadiens battled through as a group during the 2015-16 campaign.
"I don't think you're going to forget one like that. I think we got taught a lesson here. We've been talking all year about learning from last years' experience. This is one of the lessons we went through. I'm fully confident we're much more mentally tough this year than we were last year, but it's something that we've got to go through. We had it coming here. Last game, we were sloppy. We got away with it. We didn't on this night," added Gallagher.
For his part, Therrien believes a tough defeat like that was on the horizon given the way his squad had performed as of late. While they might have been piling up wins, the game against Vancouver offered up signs that some fine-tuning was in order.
"We saw it coming. Like in baseball, we saw it coming like a big curveball. When you keep doing bad things, eventually you're going to get burned. We saw it coming with the way we played last game [against Vancouver]," said Therrien, who isn't at all used to seeing groups of players under his watch being downed like that. "It's tough. I don't think I've experienced something like this before. There isn't anything positive to take away from tonight's game."
That goes without saying, of course. Fortunately, the Canadiens will have the chance to bury the loss come Saturday night when they play host to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre. To say it's a game they'd like to absolutely dominate from start to finish would be a very serious understatement.
"That's definitely the outcome that we deserved. But, the good news is that we turn around and play again at home," said Pacioretty. "It's tough to shake it off when you get scored on that many times. But, we'll see what type of group we have when we lace them up [against the Flyers]."