PITTSBURGH - The Canadiens got the performance they wanted against the Penguins; they just didn’t get the right result.
When the first and fourth most potent offenses in the league face off, it’s no surprise to see the two teams trade goals the way the Habs and Pens did the first time they met, on March 2. A far cry from that 7-6 offensive onslaught, the first-and-second-ranked teams in the East combined for just a single goal between them on Tuesday night.
“We competed for 60 minutes. They managed to score one goal and we didn’t get any. Those are the breaks,” mentioned Michael Ryder, who hit two crossbars in the outing. “I think we played a pretty good game overall and just came up a little short. We’ve got a game again tomorrow so we’ve kind of got to forget about it and take the positives out of it and move on.”
Despite managing to snuff out the Penguins’ second-ranked power play and holding them well below their average of 3.46 goals-per game, the Habs weren’t able to snap Pittsburgh’s now-13-game win streak. Shutout for just the second time this season and posting back-to-back losses in regulation for the first time this year, Michel Therrien isn’t ready to start hitting the panic button just yet.
“We were beat on a shot by Sidney Crosby,” stressed the Habs head coach, who saw the NHL’s leading scorer take advantage of a Canadiens miscue to notch the only goal of the game. “He’s the best player in the world. His shot is perfect. I take a lot of positives from this game.
“To come in here and play against a team like them that’s dominating the way they are right now and to play the way we did, we deserved a better fate,” added Therrien, whose team limited the Penguins to a single goal for just a fifth time this year. “We have to stay positive and focus on the good things we’re doing. If we keep playing the way we’re playing, the results are going to come. We’ve lost two games, but we’re doing good things. You can’t always just look at the results. You have to look at the way you’re playing and if we keep playing like this, we’re going to get the results we want.”
After firing 79 shots on net in the past two games and coming away with just one goal in 120 minutes for their efforts, the Habs are looking for a solution to help pry open the floodgates.
“Every team I’ve been on, you go through a little drought like this,” shared Brendan Gallagher, who has nine goals in 27 games so far in his rookie season. “It’s always just going back to the simple things: get bodies to the net, find ways to get pucks to the net and usually if you get a bad one or a lucky one, good things will start to happen. It’s not a matter of our play; I think we’re doing the same things offensively - the pucks just aren’t going in right now. It’s just a matter of bearing down and keeping it simple.”
Having been on both sides of lucky bounces throughout his career, Carey Price knows that sometimes a post is a goalie’s best friend and an opposing forward’s worst nightmare. After seeing Ryder hit two crossbars that easily could have sealed a different fate for the visitors, Price recognizes how small the margin of victory was against the Penguins.
“Five millimeters was the difference in the game tonight,” underlined the Habs netminder. “You have to take the positives out of it. If we keep playing the way we are, we’re not going to lose many games. We just have to stick to it.
“I thought we played very well considering the outcomes the last two games. They were pretty complete performances by us; we just came a little bit short on offense,” he finished. “I’m sure that will come if we keep putting that many shots on the board.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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