MONTREAL – The Canadiens saw their five-game win streak snapped by one of the hottest teams in the NHL on Tuesday night.
Coming off a stretch where the team had collected 19 of a possible 20 points in the past 10 games, the Habs dropped their first game on home ice since Nov. 16. Facing the league’s second-stingiest defense in the Kings, who had allowed just 60 goals in 30 games prior to their arrival in Montreal, the Canadiens had trouble beating L.A. netminder Martin Jones, who registered his second career shutout in his third career NHL game.
“A loss is a loss, no matter what the score is; what matters is how you played,” explained assistant captain Josh Gorges following the 6-0 loss, his team’s first in regulation time in over three weeks. “There are games where you can play awful and lose by one goal and then you can play a good hockey game and you just can’t score and lose by a couple. Tonight we didn’t play. So now we go to work tomorrow with a reminder that we have to come to play every night. There’s no such thing as a night off.”
There are lessons to be mined from any loss and after seeing the 2012 Stanley Cup champs in action on Tuesday night, Michel Therrien has found a few things he’d like to borrow from their playbook going forward.
“You have to give the Kings a lot of credit. They played a solid game and there’s a lot we can learn from them,” admitted the Canadiens’ coach. “There aren’t a whole lot of positives we can take from that one; when you lose like that at home in front of our fans, it hurts. We’ve been doing some good things on our side lately, though. We have to just put this one behind us and come back with a good attitude and make sure we’re ready to go for the next one against Philadelphia.”
Despite coming out hard against the third-best team in the league, peppering Jones with 17 shots in the first period including seven on a power play in the game’s opening minutes, the Canadiens couldn’t find an answer for the rookie Kings netminder and headed into the first intermission nursing a two-goal deficit.
“We didn’t come out and respond after that. That was the disappointing part,” confessed Gorges, referring to the goal Anze Kopitar scored with just 13 seconds remaining in the first to make it a two-goal game. “Sometimes that stuff happens where you have breakdowns and mistakes and get behind the 8 Ball, but we have to show more resiliency than that.”
After landing just three shots on goal in the second period, the Canadiens dug themselves into a hole they just couldn’t escape. Instead of looking at the game as a let-down performance, Gorges would prefer if his team could use it as a character-building experience that will pay dividends come springtime.
“The biggest thing we have to take from this game is to understand the importance that if you want to play with the top teams in this league and you want to compete with the teams that are competing for the Stanley Cup, you’ve got to come to play,” he stressed. “It’s going to be a fight. It’s not going to be easy. And when things don’t go our way, what kind of team are we? We need to be a team that pushes back.”
That shouldn’t be an issue. The last time the Habs were shut out on home ice, they responded by rattling off nine wins in the next 10 games.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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