COLUMBUS -- With a rematch scheduled for Tuesday night in Montreal, the Canadiens won’t have long to dwell on Monday’s loss in Columbus.
Riding high heading into Monday’s game after beating the Maple Leafs with a hard-fought shootout win on Saturday night, the Habs had every intention of leaving Nationwide Arena with a win in a second-straight game for the first time in nearly two months. Despite outshooting the Blue Jackets 34-25, the Canadiens weren’t able to solve rookie netminder Joonas Korpisalo more than twice, dropping a 5-2 decision in the Ohio capital.
“You can find good stats and bad stats with every team. Obviously that’s a bad stat,” admitted Max Pacioretty, whose team last registered consecutive wins against New York and New Jersey, on November 25 and 27, respectively. “But we’re not worried about bad stats like that; we’re just worried about winning games. We want to come in tomorrow night and get two points. Everyone is frustrated with the way tonight’s game went. We just have to be better, plain and simple. We have to execute better, work harder, and come into the break feeling good about ourselves. We really need to play for 60 minutes big time and try to get this W before we go into the break.”
Prior to puck drop, it was unclear if the Canadiens would be forced to hit the ice without the services of All-Star blue-liner P.K. Subban, who missed the morning skate due to an illness. Not only did Subban manage to suit up for his team-leading 255th consecutive game as a Hab, he played a game-high 23:26, scored a goal, added an assist, and threw in a hit and a blocked shot for good measure.
“I don’t want to make it personal. Every player in the league goes through at least one point during the season where they’re not feeling too well. This is my time,” mentioned Subban, who fired a slapshot past Korpisalo from outside the offensive zone. “You look where the season is going and you really don’t want to be outside the lineup and you don’t want to be one of the guys taking the night off. In here, we all feel the same and for us to miss a game, it’s going to have to be something pretty serious. I was a little nervous yesterday with not being able to keep some food in, but I felt better this morning and I just tried to come out and give my best effort and try to be productive for my team.”
In addition to notching his fourth goal of the campaign, Subban also chipped in with his 31st assist, good enough for sixth in the league in that category. Given his team is currently tied for 11th in the NHL with an average of 2.67 goals per game, having potted three or more goals just five times since December 1, lighting the lamp is something he admits the Habs need to improve upon moving forward – a team stat Subban insists needs to come from throughout the lineup.
“I don’t like to say ‘scoring goals’ because it’s not about scoring goals, it’s about generating offense. They outscored us, so we obviously didn’t do a good enough job of generating offense,” said Subban. “I don’t think any player can go out there thinking that he’s got to be the guy to score goals. It can’t be me, it can’t be Pleky [Tomas Plekanec], it can’t be Patch [Max Pacioretty] or Gally [Brendan Gallagher]. We have to think that we have to generate offense, and that means making the right play at the right time.
“To me, it doesn’t matter whether you have 70 assists and one goal, or 70 goals and one assist; it’s the same thing in my books,” continued the 26-year-old assistant captain, who sits second on the Canadiens with 35 points this year, one behind Pacioretty for the team lead. “If you look at the way they scored their goals, they were all over the front of the net. We didn’t do enough and there’s no excuse for it. We’ve done a lot of positive things, but we haven’t done enough to win consistently. Maybe at the start of the season we were getting the bounces, but we were working hard for those bounces. We have to get back to doing that. The good thing is, we don’t have much time to think about it. We turn around and play the same team tomorrow on our ice, in our barn, and it’s the last game before the All-Star break, so it would be nice to come out with a win.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
The Numbers Game: January 25, 2016
The Numbers Game: January 23, 2016