CALGARY - The Canadiens paid the price for a lacklustre performance on Thursday night.
Claude Julien's contingent simply couldn't generate much of anything against a Flames squad that seemingly dominated his troops in every facet of the game from start to finish, as the Canadiens dropped a 5-0 decision at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
That snapped the Habs' win streak at six games, and marked their first defeat since February 23.
Following the loss, the consensus inside the locker room was that the collective effort simply wasn't there against a group that has now won eight straight games.
"It's on us. We didn't show up right from the start," said Brendan Gallagher, after the Canadiens were outshot 38-24 in their lone regular-season visit to the Stampede City. "We didn't have the compete. We didn't have the battle that we've had as of late. We lost 5-0. Obviously, you hand it to them, they played good hockey, but [we have to] look at ourselves in the mirror. We didn't do enough to win."
Video: MTL Recap: Montoya makes 33 saves in loss to Flames
Glen Gulutzan's club struck for one goal in the first, before adding three more on starter Al Montoya in the middle frame to ultimately seal the deal. Montoya had been thrust into action after Carey Price came down with the flu and had to sit this one out. His teammates felt particularly bad that they didn't manage to put up a stronger fight in their second of three straight games in Western Canada.
"It's obviously disappointing. We would have loved to play better for Monty. He's a great teammate. He works hard all season," mentioned Gallagher, on the subject of Montoya's 33-save performance in his first start in a week-and-a-half. "To have an effort like this anytime, regardless of who's in net, it's disappointing."
Julien echoed similar thoughts after seeing his team come out flat and fail to play with the type of jam that he expects from them night in and night out.
"We looked like a tired team. We didn't have any energy. We weren't skating like we can, and when you don't skate, your execution suffers as a result," said Julien. "We were behind from the beginning to the end. It's one of those games that you have to forget and get back on track for the next one. It's tough."
Video: Brendan Gallagher on the Canadiens' lack of effort
Tough, yes, but it's a necessity this time of year, as we all know. Captain Max Pacioretty is adamant that the Canadiens will be ready to go against the Oilers on Sunday afternoon in the City of Champions.
"This is a blip on the radar. We don't want to play like this, so a couple of days to recoup, maybe work on the body a little bit and make sure we feel good for next game," insisted Pacioretty, referencing the fact that the Canadiens will have the day off on Friday and practice on Saturday at Rogers Place before going head-to-head with the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle. "This definitely wasn't our identity. That's not our team, but we'll make sure we come out flying against Edmonton."