MONTREAL – The Canadiens put up a solid effort against the NHL’s top team on Thursday, but in the end fell just short.
Outhitting, outshooting, and even outdrawing their opponents in the face-off circle, the Habs outplayed the Ducks in nearly every stat column except the one which mattered most – goals scored.
“We played a good game. We competed. I liked the work ethic a lot of our guys showed out there. That’s what we always ask for,” commented Michel Therrien following a game which was never more than one goal out of reach. “When you work hard, you’re always giving yourself a chance to win, even if we didn’t tonight. The guys played really well tonight regardless of the result.”
It was a familiar scene at the Bell Centre with solid goaltending making the difference, only this time the winning netminder wasn’t wearing the CH on his chest.
“Their goalie was excellent,” continued Therrien of Anaheim keeper Frederik Andersen, who had a shutout bid going until early in the third when a David Desharnais one-timer put the Habs on the board. “We had good scoring chances on him and got back into the game, but that second goal really hurt us.”
Matt Beleskey’s eventual game-winner would come just over three minutes after Desharnais’ equalizer, capping the night’s scoring in a tight-checking affair.
“They’re a pretty good team and they played pretty well tonight,” admitted Carey Price, who nevertheless stopped 21 of 23 Anaheim shots. “We didn’t generate a whole lot in the third and they capitalized on the one opportunity they had so we’re just going to have to move forward from this one.”
Looking for the team’s ninth comeback win this season trailing 2-1 with 11:27 left in the third, the Habs were notably without the services of the team’s leading goalscorer in Max Pacioretty as the 26-year-old forward left the ice following a hard hit from Clayton Stoner.
“Obviously he’s a big part of our hockey club,” offered Price of the Canadiens’ assistant captain who was later sent to the hospital as a precautionary measure. “He’s one of the guys we look to in those situations at the end of the game so not being able to put him out there was definitely tough.”
Likewise, Pacioretty’s longtime linemate and friend Desharnais admitted the outcome may have been different with the New Canaan, CT native on the ice.
“It was weird to see Max go down like that,” explained the 28-year-old center. “It makes you realize how big of a leader he is for this team.”
As a 14-year NHL veteran meanwhile, Andrei Markov expects Thursday’s setback to instead become a source of motivation heading into Saturday’s final home game of 2014 against the Senators before the Habs close out the year on the road with stops in Uniondale, Carolina and Florida.
“That’s hockey, sometimes these things happen,” acknowledged the Russian defenseman, who led the Canadiens with 26:36 of ice time while also picking up an assist on Desharnais’ goal. “We need to learn from them and come out hungrier and better next game.” - Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com
It's good to be back Man of heart Celebrating a leader If the hat fits