CALGARY – Despite rallying back in the final 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game, the Canadiens fell short of mounting a comeback in Calgary.
Heading into the first intermission leading the Flames 12-5 in shots but trailing 2-0 on the scoreboard, the Habs knew they’d need to make some adjustments if they wanted to snap an 11-year winless drought in Calgary. After seeing Curtis Glencross give the Flames a three-goal lead with the man advantage, pulling off a win in the unfriendly confines of the Saddledome started to seem even less likely.
“That’s not good enough, how we played,” confirmed Andrei Markov, who registered his 400th career NHL point by assisting on P.K. Subban’s second period power play marker. “The game before, we played a team game and today we didn’t. We have to learn from that and go forward.
“We have to win battles, we have to go to the net, and we just have to play much harder,” added the 13-year veteran of the 3-2 loss. “Tomorrow’s another game. We have to just start focusing on getting a good start in tomorrow night’s game.”
Currently sitting 16th in the league with an 18.8% efficiency on the power play and 18th on the penalty kill with an 80% kill rate, the Habs will also head into Thursday’s game against Edmonton looking to get their special teams clicking on a more consistent basis.
“We have to score goals on the power play, and on the PK we have to play better defensively. It’s pretty simple,” explained Markov, who played a team-high 27:23 against the Flames, including 3:44 with the man advantage. “We’re not looking for excuses; we just have to work harder.”
Despite earning third-star honors in the game for his two-point effort, helping bring the team within one with an assist on Lars Eller’s fourth of the season, Subban was more focused on a different pair of stats he picked up on Wednesday night.
“I took two penalties today and they were both bad. I cost my team there,” admitted the 24-year-old blue-liner, who was called for a cross checking minor with less than two minutes to go in the game. “It’s just not a good feeling. We worked so hard in the second and the third to bring ourselves within striking distance of tying it up and right when you’re about to turn the corner there, you take that penalty. It was a great effort for us working back; it’s just tough being the guy in the box watching that.”
Keeping penalties to a minimum and capitalizing on opportunities will be key against an Oilers team looking for their second win of the season, but for Subban, the most important change the team will need to make will come before the opening puck drop at Rexall Place.
“We weren’t ready to play right from the start, myself included,” admitted Subban. “Chipping pucks through the middle, not making tape-to-tape passes, not moving our feet. We can continue to say it’s the beginning of the season and we’re just getting things going, but we have to come out better than that.
“We knew this was a hungry team and we knew this was a young team. They had some young players in the lineup and we have to take advantage of that. I don’t think we did a good enough job,” he concluded. “We put ourselves behind the 8 Ball. We have to be prepared to play. If we’re going to be an elite team, we have to play 60.”
They won’t have to wait long to build off their final 40 minutes, with game time scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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