MONTREAL – The Canadiens fired more shots on net on Thursday than they have in almost a month, but it wasn’t enough to get the better of the Blackhawks.
Michel Therrien has repeated many times that he believes it takes three goals to win a hockey game. That’s something the Habs haven’t done in quite a while.
Lighting the lamp on Thursday just once, the Canadiens have now managed to score three or more goals four times since December 1 – a span that has seen the team go 5-14-0. Those numbers are a far cry from the ones the Canadiens posted in October, when the Habs seemed to be scoring almost at will during their historic 9-0-0 start to the campaign.
|Corey Crawford made 39 saves on Thursday night. |
“Lack of scoring has been a big part of the last month-and-a-half or so. We have to find ways to score goals,” stressed Max Pacioretty, who led the team with five shots on goal in the 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks. “We had some good pushes there in the third. The game opened up a bit and we felt like we skated pretty well. I thought we wore them down towards the end, but that’s a team that you most likely have to score more than one goal against to win the game.”
With five goals since the start of December, Pacioretty is tied with Daniel Carr behind Paul Byron – who scored his career-high eighth of the season in the first period against Chicago – for the team lead in that category over the last 19 games. Having landed 40 shots on Corey Crawford in addition to another 21 that were blocked by the Hawks and seven that missed the net, the Canadiens weren’t held off the scoresheet because of a lack of opportunity or effort.
“If we had the answer, we probably would have figured this out a little while ago. We just have to stick with it,” prescribed Pacioretty, who, with 17 goals in 44 games, is still on pace for his fourth-career 30-plus goal season. “We have to keep getting bodies and pucks to the net and maybe try to make a few more plays rather than just putting it there. Maybe we get some more confidence and we do that and see plays opening up or make a pass or shoot for a purpose and then it starts to go in.”
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Habs knew nothing would come easy against the reigning Stanley Cup champs, who arrived in Montreal riding an eight-game win sequence. Armed with the NHL’s leading scorer up front in addition to counting the league’s shutout leader between the pipes, the Hawks managed to beat Mike Condon just twice – their lowest goal tally in their last nine games.
“That’s a group that’s accomplished a lot and they understand how to win these games,” mentioned Brendan Gallagher, who missed the entire month of December while rehabbing two broken fingers after blocking a shot on November 25. “We battled and competed and as the game went on, I thought we got better and better, but we’re not going to win scoring one goal.
“We’ve got to find a way. It’s not systems – we’re creating plenty of chances; it’s just bearing down and putting the puck in the net,” added the 23-year-old assistant captain. “That’s what it comes down to. We have a bunch of guys who are capable in this locker room. It’s not a lack of confidence; it’s just a matter of bearing down and outworking the goalie.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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