The Montreal Canadiens were 2:57 away from earning a precious point in the standings and returning to a playoff position when Anders Lee took advantage of a perfect pass from Mathew Barzal to give the New York Islanders a 2-1 lead they never relinquished.
A mix up between Montreal’s Max Domi and Brett Kulak at the offensive blue line gave Barzal and Lee the 2-on-1 break that effectively ended the game. It was one of many mistakes from a Canadiens team that came into the game hoping to shore up its defensive play.
“We’ve definitely got to improve in that area,” said assistant captain Brendan Gallagher before the team left for Long Island on Wednesday. “It’s not like the effort’s not there. It’s more maybe a mindset. I think guys are probably thinking you want to contribute a bit too much on the other side of the ice right now and that complete 200-foot game is something that has made us a good team. We’ve had everyone with that mentality and if we get back to that just a bit… We have Carey Price, it’s nice to have him in there making the saves, but to make his life a little bit easier I think we have to have a little bit more commitment to limiting the chances.”
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If the intention was there, the follow through wasn’t. It didn’t hurt the Canadiens early in the game, when Price stood on his head and made several miraculous saves, but it cost them on the two goals they allowed.
Ouch. This one stung—and not just metaphorically. It was a rough-and-tumble, physical affair that left players on both sides bloodied and bruised. A playoff-style game that served as a warmup for what’s to come for both teams down the stretch and possibly only one of them beyond.
Here are our takeaways from another costly loss:
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