MONTREAL - The Canadiens wanted to rebound with a win to close out their six-game homestand on Saturday night against the Maple Leafs, but it wasn't meant to be.
The game, which took on extra significance as it was the occasion of the NHL's Centennial celebration, started off rather well for the home side as they poured on 16 shots on Frederik Andersen in the opening frame, but the Canadiens couldn't finish and came up empty by period's end.
"Tonight, we had to capitalize against a team like that. You know that with their firepower, they're going to make you pay if you don't capitalize on your chances," said captain Max Pacioretty, who registered four shots on net, three hits and a blocked shot. "The chances were there, we didn't seem to be able to put one in and then they scored, got momentum and took over the game."
Video: Pacioretty on the loss to the Leafs
Two quick Toronto goals in the middle of the game - former Hab Ron Hainsey's first of the season, followed by Nazem Kadri's 10th just 37 seconds later - put the Canadiens in a hole from which they couldn't recover. Connor Brown, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews (two goals) added third-period tallies and sealed the deal with a 6-0 win for the visitors.
"We gave up too many grade A [scoring chances]. If we were able to put one in when we had the chances earlier in the game, it might be a different story," continued Pacioretty, who saw 19:10 of ice time. "Eventually, that team is going to make you pay. They just have so much offense that's able to come wave after wave. When they were able to get that first one, they built off that. We weren't able to recover."
Goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who stopped 22 of 27 shots before being pulled in favor of Antti Niemi after Matthews' first marker, believes that those two quick second-period goals may have deflated his squad, but that his team will have to make a point of battling their way out of it the next time around.
"When you get hit with adversity, you have to punch back. When they get two goals like that, it's tough," described Lindgren, who made his seventh straight start on Saturday. "It's hard to come back from two goals in this League. But with adversity, you have to fight through it."
Video: Charlie Lindgren on his performance against Toronto
The young Minnesotan puckstopper reflected on his team's recent stretch at home and wishes the end could've been more like the beginning.
"It's tough, because we started off the [homestand] playing really well. The way we finished wasn't the way we wanted. When teams come into the Bell Centre, it has to be the hardest place to play," pronounced Lindgren, who has a 3-3-1 record, 2.49 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in seven games this season. "The last couple of games it hasn't been that way, but we have to move on."
Still, the 23-year-old was quickly embraced upon his arrival in relief of injured goalies Carey Price and Al Montoya, and wants to help his team - who outshot Toronto 33-31 - work their way back to success.
"I want to help these guys out, that's the bottom line. We have to get wins here and it's my job to help them out. But mentally, I'm doing fine. I love these guys in the locker room, they're already like family," Lindgren concluded. "We'll be better."