MONTREAL – If ever there was a loss that could give a team momentum, the Montreal Canadiens believe Saturday night’s 4-2 setback against the Philadelphia Flyers was it.
The Habs spent nearly the entire game controlling the puck in the Flyers zone, but they were unable to capitalize on several open nets and were burned by Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron on many occasions.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who spent most of the night watching his teammates play at the other end of the ice, said he was encouraged with what he saw.
“We’re all obviously disappointed with the loss, but I thought we carried that game,” said Price. “We took a lot of momentum from that game. If we would have buried half of the empty netters we had, we would have won 8-4.”
Price himself didn’t have his best night, allowing two goals on the first five shots he faced to put Montreal in a 2-0 hole for a second straight game.
“It’s kind of tough when you’re not getting a whole lot of work and then you get a bad break, it’s tough to hang in there,” Price said. “I know I can play better, and it’s going to happen in the next game.”
Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec, who was stopped by Biron glove saves on a breakaway and an empty net rebound opportunity in the second period, said Montreal has to stop spotting the Flyers these leads if they want to get back home ice advantage when the series shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Wednesday.
“During the regular season we had great starts, the first was one of our strongest periods, but these two games it was exactly the opposite,” Plekanec said.
“Maybe we need to be more focused or something, but for sure it’s not going to happen every night that we’re going to come back from 2-0.”
The Canadiens don’t have to look hard for positives to draw from the game, starting with the power play which for the first time in these playoffs resembled the unit that led the league in the regular season.
Montreal got one goal and nine shots in four power play opportunities, but that’s not counting the numerous goal posts and missed nets.
Winger Christopher Higgins agrees that the performance is encouraging, but he says that feeling can’t lead to any degree of satisfaction.
“We did a lot of the right things to get opportunities around the net, but it’s the playoffs and we have to start putting them in,” Higgins said, who himself struck a post with a wide open net in the third period. “It doesn’t really matter how many chances we get. The only thing people will remember is who won the series.”
Nevertheless, Carbonneau says that a good night’s sleep will allow he and his players to take some momentum from the loss and apply it in Game 3.
“Until tomorrow morning everybody’s going to be frustrated, we lost,” Carbonneau said. “We had a chance to go up 2-0 (in the series), they played a good game and we played a good game, but they came up with the win. But when we look at the tape tomorrow we’ll see some really good things, and that’s what we have to stay on.”