Canadiens try to bounce back vs. road-weary Flames

League: NHL

Posted on: 13 Nov, 2023 at 10:55 PM

Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The rebuilding Montreal Canadiens are off to a strong start this season -- albeit in big part thanks to their overtime success -- but received a valuable lesson about the importance of maintaining their focus in their last outing.

Coming off Sunday's 5-2 loss to the visiting Vancouver Canucks that snapped a two-game winning streak, the Canadiens will look to regroup when they host the struggling Calgary Flames on Tuesday.

Montreal claimed a thrilling overtime win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday but failed to match Vancouver's performance the next night.

"It's the NHL, you've got to be ready to go every night. There's no excuses," forward Sean Monahan said. "You play an emotional game, a big game like we did (in Boston), you've got to build off that. You've got to take that into the next night, and I don't think we did that."

Seven of Montreal's 15 games have gone into overtime, and the Canadiens have posted a 5-2 mark. Montreal has won twice in regulation.

Although there were limited expectations of the Canadiens going into the season, things could be going even better. Despite the team's winning record, a handful of players are struggling offensively, most notably Josh Anderson, who scored 21 goals last season but is yet to light the lamp. Meanwhile, 2022 first-overall draft choice Juraj Slafkovsky has managed only one goal in 15 outings this season.

In a possible sign a breakthrough may come soon, Slafkovsky recorded six shots on goal against Vancouver.

"I know I got to shoot more," the 19-year-old Slovakian told the Montreal Gazette. "It's coming from me, it's coming from pretty much everyone around me. They're trying to tell me to shoot. ... I'm trying to shoot more."

The Flames, who are ahead of only the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks in the league standings, are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Calgary is winless in the first two outings of a three-game road trip that opened with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames, who play 13 of their first 21 games away from home, have a 2-5-2 record outside of the Saddledome.

The Flames trailed 2-1 going into the third period against Ottawa but came nowhere close to a comeback after they surrendered a pair of quick goals and managed only two shots on net in the final frame.

"It's those little lapses," forward Blake Coleman said. "We've been talking about it a little bit too much this year and that's what's so defeating, when you don't finish your chances and there are two minutes where -- you're not falling asleep -- but you miss an assignment or whatever it may be, and that's the game."

Having a close game spiral away has been an ongoing problem for the Flames.

"If you make a mistake or something happens, you turn the page quickly and you make sure you're ready to reload for your next shift and that's what it's all about," coach Ryan Huska said. "You can't let something build and compound where momentum situations, a team comes back and gets another one quickly. That's on us, for sure."

No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom has missed two games due to an undisclosed injury but practiced fully Monday.

--Field Level Media