NEWARK – Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth can pinpoint exactly when the game's turning point occurred on Thursday night.
After a night filled with bad breaks and bad bounces, Cunneyworth made no secret of his feelings when it came to what he considered the ultimate difference-maker in the outing.
“It’s tough enough playing a team straight up, but when you don’t get the calls, especially on the one that made the difference – Cole was obviously hooked and couldn’t get the puck out of the zone – it’s a little bit beyond comprehension for me,” began Cunneyworth of the events leading up to the game-winning goal. “I thought we battled and worked hard all night. The difference here was the penalties. It’s hard to fight a good team when you’re down a man for as long as we were. We got off to the start we wanted, responded the way we wanted, but when you have to overcome those other things in a game, it’s tough to swallow."
In the Canadiens dressing room, the game’s outcome was equally apparent on the players’ faces. For some, the loss to the Devils represented a missed opportunity; for others, it seemed to be the summation of an extremely difficult 2011-12 season.
“On the second goal, I blocked [Ilya] Kovalchuk’s shot, it hit someone’s leg and lands right on the guy’s stick. At the end of the game, [David] Desharnais makes an amazing block and it lands right on one of their sticks again. It’s not an excuse – when you’re playing well, the bounces tend to go your way a lot more,” expressed Mathieu Darche who was far from short on effort against the Devils, scoring a short-handed marker and logging a team-high 4:06 on the penalty kill.
“We didn’t even play a bad game. That’s the most frustrating thing about this year. If I could explain it, we wouldn’t be where we are right now,” added the veteran forward. “We were in the game, we were in control, we were playing well, but it seems like there’s always something that happens. I don’t want to blame luck, because I know luck is something you make yourself.”
A few stalls down, Josh Gorges was also trying to come to terms with a night where he, along with the rest of the Habs, felt the team’s efforts didn’t merit the results.
“It’s just frustrating because we felt like we deserved a better fate. A couple of bad breaks, bad bounces and that ended up being the difference. We have to find ways to win these games and keep these leads, because time’s running out,” said Gorges after posting a game-high three blocked shots on the night.
“I’ll have to watch the game and go over a few plays to try and get a better feel of it, but it definitely felt to me like we were doing a lot of things right. You look at the game winning goal and… I don’t even know what happened. Davey worked like a bugger to get back and he dives; it just so happens to go right off his stick and to the other guy. I mean – he gave everything he could – and it goes right to their guy. There’s nothing [Carey] Price could do. He’s trying to make the first save and it’s a wide open net,” finished Gorges. “It’s so tough right now because we need these points.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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