MONTREAL - When you're going up against the defending Stanley Cup champs, failing to execute simply isn't an option.
On Wednesday night, the Canadiens couldn't generate much of anything in the way of offense against the Pittsburgh Penguins while coming up short on the defensive side of things as well.
That resulted in a 4-1 loss to their Eastern Conference rivals at the Bell Centre - their second defeat in as many games after dropping a 1-0 decision to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Monday.
Following their 18-shot performance against Detroit earlier in the week, Michel Therrien's troops challenged Penguins goaltender Matt Murray just 20 times in their 23rd home outing of the season, as they struggled to find ways to put pucks on net for a second straight game.
Video: Condensed Game: Penguins @ Canadiens
"We've got to find a way to create offense. It hasn't been there the last two games. I'm not sure why," said captain Max Pacioretty, who accounted for a team-leading three shots on goal along with Andrew Shaw. "We have to feel confident with the puck and make plays when they're there. It seems like we're not making those plays and the result is not getting many opportunities."
And, by proxy, the Canadiens are lighting the lamp on a far less consistent basis. Over their last six games, Therrien's charges have registered just 15 goals while surrendering 24 to the opposition. Four of those games, meanwhile, have resulted in outright losses.
When things are trending in that direction, giving up the puck 10 times isn't a recipe for success, especially when you're going up against the likes of the Penguins' League-leading offense.
"We turned the puck over quite a bit. For a team like that, they feed on that and the transition game. They transition the puck quickly, so I felt they played the game they wanted to play," shared Petry, who was responsible for a team-leading four giveaways on Wednesday night. "I think it's something that we need to take a look at and clean up. It's a fine line to push to score goals, but we can't have it hurt our defensive game."
Video: Jeff Petry on the Canadiens' defensive play lately
Even if things aren't going the Canadiens' way at the moment on both sides of the puck, though, the consensus inside the locker room is that trying to take any drastic measures to right the ship isn't necessarily the way to get back on track.
"I think everyone wants to do their part to score goals, and when goals aren't coming it's frustrating," admitted Petry. "I think we just need to stick to it and not step outside of our game plan because that's when we kind of open things up and the puck ends up in our net."
Mark Barberio stressed the importance of staying positive with so many games on the horizon, including a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night coming up at New Jersey and at home against Buffalo, respectively.
"You can't get frustrated because there are still a lot of games left in the season and a lot are coming up soon," said Barberio. "You just have to look at the errors and correct them as quickly as possible."