Tired Habs fall 2-1 to Florida Panthers
Published Sunday, December 15, 2013 8:21PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 16, 2013 3:53PM EST
After a sluggish start to their third game in four nights, the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t pull off a come-from-behind win, losing 2-1 in a home game against the Florida Panthers.
Jesse Winchester and Nick Bjugstad managed to find the net behind Peter Budaj in the second frame to give Florida the lead.
But Habs rookie Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play early in the third to cut the Panthers’ lead to one.
The Panthers nearly extended their lead after Brad Boyes beat Budaj late in the third, but the referee disallowed the goal after it was determined Boyes kicked the puck into the net.
The Canadiens looked for the equalizer late in the third period when they played 35 seconds of 5-on-3 hockey, but they couldn't generate much offence.
Florida has now won five of its last six games, while the Canadiens have lost three of their last four.
Coach Michel Therrien pointed out the team has played 11 games in less than three weeks, and he could tell his players are drained.
“When physically, you’re tired, your execution’s not quite there. You take bad decisions mentally,” he said.
“They’re human beings. They’re good athletes, but they give what they got.”
But Budaj, who faced 25 shots in the game, said that the schedule can’t be blamed for a lacklustre performance.
“I think every team goes through adversity with the schedule, especially with the Olympic break coming up, the games are stacked up, so it’s not just us,” he said.
Captain Brian Gionta said consistency has been an issue all season for the team.
“We have to get back to playing our hockey, and playing it consistently and doing the right things. Whether you’re winning or losing, you have to play the right way.”
Galchenyuk, the Habs’ sole goal –scorer, said the team knew they had to come out harder in the third period, which explains their improved play.
“We’ve just got to do that from the drop of the puck. We’ve got to come out harder, come out flying, especially play with energy, go to the net hard, be aggressive out there and good things will happen.”
Defenceman P.K. Subban, who picked up an assist on Galchenyuk’s goal, said the team didn’t do enough to come out with the victory,
“It’s not like not we’re having chances. We’ve having opportunities, I just think we have to work a little bit harder to bury them.”
The Habs snapped a two-game losing skid Saturday night against the New York Islanders.
Max Pacioretty scored just under two minutes into overtime to lead the Canadiens to 1-0 win.
The last time Montreal played at home, Tuesday night, they were trounced 6-0 by the L.A. Kings.
They then lost 2-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday, sparking fears the team was settling into a losing streak.
Those fears were temporarily calmed by Saturday's win, but are likely to be reignited after Sunday's performance.
The Habs have only scored three times in their last four games.
Montreal could have closed in on first-place Boston in the NHL's Atlantic Division with a win.
The Canadiens have 43 points while the first-place Bruins, who did not play Sunday, have 46.
Therrien also confirmed enforcer George Parros suffered a concussion Saturday.
His status is day-to-day, Therrien said. Parros missed the first month of the 2013-2014 season after he sustained a concussion in the Habs’ season opener during a fight with the Leafs’ Colton Orr.
The Habs record now stands at 20-12-3. They will take on the Phoenix Coyotes at home Tuesday before embarking on a six-game road trip that will stretch into the new year.
With files from The Canadian Press