PITTSBURGH – After beating the Penguins 3-2 in the first meeting between the two teams this season on Nov. 23, the Habs had a tougher night at the Consol Energy Center in Game 2.
Slump buster: Having last lit the lamp on Dec. 2 against the Devils, Rene Bourque happily ripped the monkey off his back in the first period against Pittsburgh. Not only did his perfectly-placed wrister get the Habs on the board, Bourque’s first goal in 52 days also marked his first point on the road this season. While it’s a step in the right direction, the 32-year-old winger isn’t breathing a sigh of relief just yet.
“Minor [relief], I guess, but there’s still a lot of work to do. [One goal] doesn’t go very far when you play like that,” admitted the Lac La Biche, AB native, who was one of just two Habs players to finish with a positive plus/minus differential on Wednesday night, along with Nathan Beaulieu. “We didn’t belong with that team for the first two periods and we weren’t ready to play. You can’t let [Evgeni] Malkin carry the puck up the ice like that all night. He looked like he was playing a video game, going around us every shift he was out there.”
Fighting words: Coming in to replace Carey Price for just the second time this season after the Habs spotted the Penguins a 5-1 lead, Peter Budaj stopped all 10 shots he faced during his period-and-a-half between the pipes. The Slovak netminder also picked up his second penalty of the season, a two-minute minor for leaving the crease when he attempted to meet Marc-Andre Fleury at center ice for a scrap during a 10-man scrum in the third period.
“We lost the game; that’s the key for me. That’s what’s disappointing for us. We didn’t play a good game and they were the better team,” explained Budaj, who now has a .923 save percentage through 12 games in 2013-14. “We gave the best power play in the league a lot of power plays and they capitalized on them. Price didn’t get any help. When I got in, it was nothing personal with Fleury. He was more excited in front of his own fans. There was a scrum on the ice and a bit of tension. I hear he’s a nice guy; it’s nothing personal.”
Saving face: Picking up his 14th point of the season with a sweet feed to Bourque in the first period, Daniel Briere wasn’t looking for moral victories or silver linings following the loss. For the veteran forward, the important thing for the Habs will be to use the lessons learned to make sure there aren’t more performances like Wednesday’s in the team’s future.
“It’s hard to find a positive in that. We were outclassed. We’ll watch the game tape later, but I don’t think we’ll find a whole lot of positives from that game,” relayed Briere, who had one shot and won four of his eight draws against Pittsburgh. “That was embarrassing. It’s no less embarrassing to lose that way to a team like the Penguins. We gave them way too much space in the first two periods. They slowed down a bit in the third period and we did just enough to not humiliate ourselves any further. We can’t play like that in the next couple of weeks or we’ll have more games with that kind of result. Carey Price and Peter Budaj can’t save us from being embarrassed every game.”
The Habs will have a chance to turn things around on Friday night in Detroit when they face the Red Wings for the first time this season.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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