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Time to deliver

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

WASHINGTON - Snapping out of their current funk is proving tough for the Canadiens – and increasingly frustrating, too.

Michel Therrien’s troops suffered their sixth consecutive loss on Saturday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. It marked the 10th time in their last 11 games that Therrien’s squad had come out on the wrong side of the scoresheet and failed to come away with a single point for their effort. In short, over two weeks have passed since the Canadiens put up a number in the win column.

“We did a lot of good things, but it just isn’t enough. We need to find a way to get our mojo back and play the way we did at the beginning of the year. We have to give our goaltender a bit of a cushion, too. When we get scored on first, we have a tendency to slow down and fall apart. The first goal is important. Everyone has to give more,” offered David Desharnais, referencing the fact that the CH surrendered the opening marker once again on Saturday night as Evgeny Kuznetsov lit the lamp just under seven minutes into the first period. “It’s never easy to go through something like this. We have to find a way out of it.”   

It’s not as if the Canadiens didn’t put up a good fight in the District of Columbia. After Jay Beagle gave Barry Trotz’s contingent a two-goal lead with 90 seconds gone in the second period, young gun Daniel Carr scored his fourth goal of the year just 24 seconds later to cut Washington’s lead in half and bring the Canadiens to within striking distance. Unfortunately, that’s all the offense they could muster as goaltender Braden Holtby made 29 saves to pace the Capitals to their seventh straight win.

“We’re doing a lot of good things, but I can’t stress it enough – it’s just that extra little push that we need to have. Sometimes, you’re missing that and you don’t know why. It could be your confidence. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us if this keeps going, though. There will be consequences,” explained captain Max Pacioretty, who has been held to just one goal in his last 11 outings. “But, this team in here is a family. We’ve had a lot of success together. We know how to play the right way. We don’t want things to change. We want to get out of this together. It’s just going to take a little bit more from everyone in this room. I think if we do that, we’re going to have better results.”

Scoring goals will go a long way towards securing those results. To say the Canadiens have been stymied offensively as of late would be a severe understatement. Outscored by a 35-16 margin since December 3, the Habs have scored more than two goals in a single game just once during that span. That just isn’t good enough on any given night.

“Obviously, we’d like more offense. It’s a tough league to score in. Personally, I only have one goal this season. I couldn’t give you a reason why. It’s not a lack of shots on net. Sometimes that’s the way it goes with the offense. We play some really good defenses and we have to wait for the bounces to go our way. That’s what we have to focus on,” shared P.K. Subban, who led all skaters on both teams by logging 29:24 of ice time on Saturday night. “Next game, we might come out and score five goals. I don’t know. But, we have to play every game like it’s a 1-0 game.”

Pacioretty shared similar thoughts in the aftermath of the Canadiens’ 14th regulation loss of the year, one that got the second half of their current eight-game road swing off to a rocky start.

“We need to come in this room after the first period and not be in a hole. That’s the truth. If we’re not scoring goals, we can’t get scored on. It sounds simple, but we need to come in the room after the first period and feel good about ourselves,” admitted Pacioretty, who registered four shots on goal in the loss. “We’re staying positive. People are saying the right things and doing the right stuff, but this league is too good. It’s really a tough game to dig yourself out of holes every night.”

For his part, Mike Condon was stellar between the pipes with a 30-save performance. The Holliston, MA native even made 18 saves in the second period alone, but that was little consolation to the rookie netminder who didn’t get the result he was looking for in his 21st start of the 2015-16 campaign.

“It’s not really about me or any individual, to be honest. It only matters when you win. It doesn’t matter how good you play,” offered Condon, whose record now stands at 9-9-3 through 24 appearances on the year. “We’re working really hard. It’s not effort-based. It’ll come. We’ve just got to stay positive.”

Stay positive and channel that energy into goals and wins as soon as possible, preferably come Monday night in Tampa at Amalie Arena.

“For us right now, we can’t focus on the standings. We just have to focus on what we can do and that’s how we play. Every team will go through ups and downs during a season. That’s the NHL and that’s professional sports,” concluded Subban. “Each individual player can’t worry about the guy next to him. They have to worry about their game. If we do that, we’re going to get the results that we want. We’re right there.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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