OTTAWA – The Canadiens are heading to Toronto having picked up points in eight straight games.
Since dropping a 6-0 decision to the Leafs on home ice over two weeks ago, the Habs haven’t lost a single game in regulation time. That streak continued Monday night at Scotiabank Place, where the Canadiens were forced to settle for a shootout loss despite outshooting the Sens by a lopsided 45-25 margin.
“We played a strong game but we have to bear down on our chances. You always feel like you let the team down when you don’t get two points, especially if you don’t score enough goals,” offered Max Pacioretty, who now leads the team with 14 points after picking up an assist in Ottawa. “We’re playing good hockey so we need to touch up on a couple of things and get bodies to the net. Their goalie played great, but I think we made him look a lot better than he was.”
Senators netminder Ben Bishop kicked aside 44 of the 45 shots he faced in the game – not including the three posts hit by Pacioretty, Raphael Diaz and Erik Cole – before stopping four of the Canadiens’ five attempts in the shootout. Despite leaving Ottawa with a sparkling .958 save percentage after stopping 24 of 25 shots, Carey Price was taking the team’s “No Excuses” motto personally after the game.
“That was the best game we played all year and I didn’t come through,” admitted the three-time All-Star, who is tied for first among all NHL goalies with 10 wins this season. “I didn’t make the saves I needed to. It was just a bad goal and I made a mistake.”
Still sitting first in the Eastern Conference following Monday’s game in the nation’s capital, the Canadiens would have preferred to be bringing an extra point along with them to Toronto. They’ll settle for carrying Monday’s performance into Wednesday’s tilt against the Leafs.
“You’re going to have nights where the result isn’t in your favor; that’s normal,” stressed Habs head coach Michel Therrien. “We played a solid game from start to finish. We hit three posts. The result wasn’t what we wanted, but we have to take away the positives. You have to focus on performance and we played with authority out there.”
Whether the 6-0 loss to the Leafs on Feb. 9 was a catalyst, a wake-up call or a season turning point for the Habs, Price is looking forward to picking up two points and extending the streak to nine at the Air Canada Centre.
“We’ve been playing pretty good hockey since that game [against Toronto] so we just have to keep on with what we’re doing,” explained Price. “I’ve got to play better and if we play like [we did tonight] again [on Wednesday], we’re going to win.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Game highlights: Habs vs. Senators
Boxscore: Habs vs. Senators
The Numbers Game - February 25, 2013