MONTREAL – Despite coming out flying against the Islanders, the Canadiens couldn’t walk away with a sixth-straight win.
After suffering through 10 goalless games to start the season, Max Pacioretty rekindled his offensive spark this week, breaking out of his early-season slump in a big way. Since last Saturday night against the Flyers, the 24-year-winger has racked up four goals and seven points in his last four games, including two goals on Thursday night.
While he finished his night’s work with an impressive six shots, two points and a plus-1 differential against the Isles, all Pacioretty could think about postgame were the goals that didn’t come in the 4-3 overtime loss.
“Things were feeling a lot better when I wasn’t scoring and we won games,” he admitted. “It’s a shame we left Carey [Price] out to dry like that. Everyone’s got to look in the mirror and know they have to step up, myself included.
“When the coach relies on you and takes a timeout for you to stay out there on the power play [late in the third], I’ve got to do a lot better than that,” added Pacioretty, who is now tied with Tomas Plekanec for the team lead with 13 points. “I wish I could take that back. We got completely away from our game plan and they saw an opportunity and walked all over us. It’s embarrassing to be up like that and get away from our game plan so much.”
Special teams were the difference on Thursday night, with the Canadiens going 1-for-4 with the man advantage while giving up two power play goals against to let a 3-1 lead slip away in the third period.
“I don’t think it’s so much discipline as much as not killing the penalties that hurts us,” mentioned Price, who is still leading the league with nine wins this season. “We have to figure out a way to bail our guys out [when they get penalties]. They scored two power play goals; that’s a momentum changer.”
The second-most penalized team in the league with 111 penalties in 17 games, the Canadiens’ penalty killers have had plenty of practice already this season. Instead of worrying about the 14 power play goals the PK unit has given up this year, Brian Gionta is more concerned about the team’s 18.3% efficiency with the man advantage.
“It’s a special teams battle so you can look at it the opposite way, too,” mentioned the Habs captain, who enjoyed 3:42 of power play ice time against New York. “We’ve got to get a kill, but we also have to score more power play goals.”
The small setback may have cost the Canadiens a point, but when they wake up in the morning and head to the office, they’ll still be sitting first in the Eastern Conference. That’s not a bad place to build from.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Words from the room
The Numbers Game - February 21, 2013
New look Habs