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Losing streak has Price, Canadiens shaking heads

Frustration mounts after seventh consecutive defeat extends worst start since 1941-42

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- It may have been the fact the Montreal Canadiens allowed three goals in a 97-second span in the third period Friday at Honda Center and were careening toward their seventh straight loss, prompting a flip through the record books. 

Or that a shot by Anaheim Ducks forward Chris Wagner got by Montreal goaltender Carey Price after glancing off Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber

It was enough to cause a usually unemotional goalie to react emotionally after the goal by Wagner, Anaheim's last in a 6-2 Ducks victory

Price met his breaking point head on, breaking his stick against the goal post. He did what many of his teammates presumably wouldn't mind doing, with the Canadiens mired in a 1-6-1 start, matching their worst eight-game start since 1941-42, when they began the season 1-10-1.

Video: MTL@ANA: Wagner buries a one-timer from Perry

Montreal's seven-game losing streak is its longest since nine consecutive losses from Dec. 16, 1939-Jan. 6, 1940; the longest losing streak in Canadiens history is 12 games, from Feb. 13-March 13, 1926. 

"You feel terrible for him," Montreal defenseman Karl Alzner said of Price. "We all want to smack sticks over the boards and do that right now. It's a tough way to start the season. You typically go through a couple of slides during a year, but it just makes it extra tough because it's at the beginning of the year."

Price is 1-5-1 with a 3.94 goals-against average and a save percentage of .881, very un-Price like statistics.

"It's frustrating, no doubt," Price said. "I don't know a human on Earth that wouldn't be frustrated at this point. But I think the biggest thing right now is to park it and move on once we leave this rink."

There is plenty of baggage to leave behind in Anaheim, or in California. Montreal was outscored by a combined 16-5 in losses to the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Ducks.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien spoke to his level of frustration.

"It's very high, not going to lie," he said. "But at the same time, as frustrated as I am, I'm the one who's got to find some solutions here and turn things around. So I'll have to stay the course here and find that solution.

"It's part of my job. I can't be excused from what's happening because I am part of this group, through thick or thin. I am a part of this group, and I'm going to take as much of the blame as anybody else."

Maybe the Canadiens should search for a paintball course, like the Ducks did on Thursday when they took the day off and visited Camp Pendleton for team-building exercises. Anaheim has struggled, too, beset with injuries up and down the lineup.

Minutes into the game Friday, the Ducks (3-3-1) lost top defenseman Cam Fowler, who injured his right leg and did not return.

Against the Canadiens, third-line center Derek Grant scored the first two goals of his NHL career and fourth-line center Dennis Rasmussen scored his first goal with Anaheim.

The game featured a wild swing of momentum. As poorly as Montreal played -- trailing 3-0 after the first period -- it dominated the second, with a Canadiens-record 30 shots on goal, three more than their old single-period mark of 27, done three times, most recently against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 12, 2015. They pulled to 3-2 with a relentless stretch against Ducks goalie John Gibson, whose 28 saves in the second period set an Anaheim record.

But Montreal's good work and progress quickly unraveled in a 97-second stretch in the third period, when goals by defenseman Brandon Montour, Grant and Wagner increased the Ducks' lead from one goal to four.

"There's no excuse for our ups and downs in our play," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "There's just too many lulls in our pace of play right now for us to be successful. There's too many good teams, too many good players. You can't afford to take a shift off, you can't afford to take a period off.

"We learned our lesson a couple of times. We should know it by now. It's on all of us."

Alzner was in the same dressing room at Honda Center on March 12, when he was with the Washington Capitals, who finished 0-3-0 on their trip through California and did plenty of soul-searching.

But that's where the similarities end. Washington was leading its division at that point in the season. Montreal has three points after eight games and hasn't won since a shootout victory in its season opener, on Oct. 5 against the Buffalo Sabres.

In a demanding market like Montreal, two weeks without a victory feels like two months.

"When you come in on a road trip where you want to build momentum on, and go 0-3, it's even worse," Alzner said. "We just have to take a step back, I think. Honestly, it's a cliche but we need to forget about what has happened and start playing the game. We have too much pride and too much skill.

"If you look at us, we're better than what we're showing right now."

They will attempt to hit the reset button with three games at home, beginning Tuesday against the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, FS-F, NHL.TV).

Said Price: "It's always a good thing to be at home."

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