The one that got away
Having only failed to pick up a point in the standings once since the Olympic break heading into their crucial four-point game with the Senators, the Canadiens were riding high and hoping to continue on their roll. That didn’t happen. A shutout loss to the rival Sens went over about as well in the Habs’ dressing room as one would expect.
“We can’t play like that,” acknowledged Andrei Markov, who played a team-high 23:30 against the Senators. “We really didn’t play our game the way we can, especially in the first period. We know we have to be better and we were forcing things a little more tonight. We all know how big this game was and what’s still coming for us.”
What’s coming for Markov and Co. is a tough stretch of three games in four nights beginning with a date with the division-leading Sabres in scenic Buffalo. Clearly, a repeat performance will not do on Wednesday night, or at any point going forward
“It’s always tough for any team to get off to a bad start. When you have to come from behind, you have to try some things,” explained a frustrated Hal Gill following the Habs’ first shutout loss since Feb. 7 against the Bruins. “We had too much space between our defense and our forwards because we were forcing plays and that’s how mistakes happen.”
While the Canadiens were their own worst enemies on this night, Mathieu Darche did point out that the Habs weren’t alone on the Bell Centre ice.
“You have to give them credit. They managed to simplify their game for the whole 60 minutes. It forced us to cheat a little and try some riskier plays,” admitted Darche. “We lost our third man high in the offensive zone. We had to chase them tonight and that’s the worst thing a team can have to do.”
While still ranked second in the NHL, the Canadiens’ power play has struggled of late, going 4-for-22 over the past five games and 0-for-5 against the Senators. The eminent return of sharp-shooters Marc-Andre Bergeron and Michael Cammalleri couldn’t come at a better time for the Habs.
Perhaps an increase in lamp lighting for the Canadiens is only a doctor’s green light away.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
The Numbers game
The stars of the game