SUNRISE – The Canadiens left South Florida feeling frustrated on Sunday night, and with good reason.
Michel Therrien’s troops dropped a 4-1 decision at the BB&T Center to the Florida Panthers, and were stymied for the second time this year by a squad that appeared ripe for the picking after losing three straight games coming into the tilt.
The Habs also saw a pair of goals waved off during the first and third periods respectively, which only added to their disappointment before departing for their next game in North Carolina on New Year’s Eve.
“It’s a frustrating night when you have two goals disallowed. On the first one, [Brian] Gionta told me back at the bench that he didn’t touch the puck with his stick. On the second one, [Alex] Galchenyuk was clearly cross-checked from behind making his way towards the goaltender. A night like this one is frustrating,” confided the Habs bench boss after watching his team’s two-game winning streak come to an abrupt end at the hands of Peter Horachek’s club.
To a man, Therrien’s players expressed similar sentiments on the subject of the disallowed markers, including Daniel Briere, who appeared to bring the Canadiens to within a goal of tying the scoreline when the Habs found themselves down 3-1 in the final frame.
“It’s disappointing. We work really hard in order to score goals in this league. When you score a goal like that and it’s disallowed, it’s even more frustrating,” noted Briere, whose goal was ultimately disallowed after Galchenyuk appeared to be pushed into Panthers netminder Scott Clemmensen by forward Marcel Goc. “Still, those decisions are made quickly, and they don’t necessarily have a second chance to see them. You have to be certain when you make calls like that.”
Disallowed goals aside, the Habs weren’t offering up any excuses for their performance on Sunday night, giving credit to the Panthers for playing a complete game from start to finish.
“They were getting on us quick, and we didn’t really counter very well. I think it’s always frustrating not being able to score. It’s frustrating when you’re getting hemmed into your own zone. Both of those things happened tonight,” mentioned Brandon Prust, who scored his fourth goal of the season at the 2:56 mark of the second period.
“We were having trouble getting the puck out and making hard plays,” continued Prust, who logged 13:44 of ice time against the Panthers, and accounted for three of the Habs’ 22 shots on goal. “We were turning the puck over sometimes and not winning our battles, so we just looked a little bit sluggish out there.”
Like Prust, veteran rearguard Andrei Markov is adamant the Canadiens should have offered up a more convincing performance coming off a big win to start their road trip a day earlier in Tampa.
“On Saturday night [in Tampa], we played a good game, a team game. We supported each other. Tonight, was a different game,” cited Markov. “Their team was quicker and they were more hungry than we were. We have to learn from that and move forward. There’s no question we have to be better.”
Looking to close out 2013 on a high note in Raleigh on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes, you can bet the Canadiens will be primed to offer up a strong showing in order to put this loss in the rear-view mirror.
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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