Montreal Canadiens feel on track despite four consecutive losses | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Montreal Canadiens feel on track despite four consecutive losses

October 14, 2017 - 8:47 PM

MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens feel they're close to hitting their stride despite losing a fourth consecutive game.

The Canadiens dropped a hard-fought 4-3 contest in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday in the first of five matchups between the two rivals this season.

Montreal is sixth in the Atlantic Division after five games this year.

"Today we got a point and we're heading in the right direction," said Jonathan Drouin, who scored his first goal with Montreal. "Scoring three goals is a really good sign offensively. We're disappointed because we would have wanted two points.

"We're hockey players and we like to win, especially against an arch-rival like Toronto."

Auston Matthews scored the winner, his second goal of the game, for the division-leading Maple Leafs (4-1-0) just 48 seconds into overtime.

The victory is Toronto's first against the Canadiens in 14 straight games, dating back to Jan. 2014 (previously 0-10-4). Four current Maple Leafs were on the roster that day: James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner.

Montreal (1-3-1), which scored a combined four goals in its first four games this season, has not won since the season opener against the Buffalo Sabres.

But the Canadiens chose to focus on the positives.

Jeff Petry became the first Habs defenceman this season to find the back of the net, setting the tone for the encounter with a slapshot through traffic at 2:19 of the first period.

Alex Galchenyuk scored Montreal's first power-play goal of the season at 16:49 of the first period, ending a 0 for 14 slump. Galchenyuk opted to shoot on an odd-man rush, firing a wrist shot past Frederik Andersen, blocker side. It was his first goal of the season.

And Drouin got his campaign up and running as the 22-year-old netted his first goal in a Canadiens uniform. Drouin gave the home side the 3-2 lead at 11:33 of the second period when he deflected Karl Alzner's slap pass from the point past Andersen.

"We've been moving in the right direction but we haven't been able to fill the net against the other team," said Alzner. "We can tidy up a few things but we're feeling a lot better."

The Canadiens outshot Toronto 34-22, including 13-6 in the third period alone.

"We did enough tonight to deserve the win, but that didn't happen," said head coach Claude Julien. "When things aren't going well, try to minimize the mistakes. We scored three tonight and that's a step in the right direction.

"At the end of the day there's a pretty good team here that probably deserves a better record than it has."

Carey Price praised his teammates but blamed himself for the loss.

Price was out of position on Matthews's first goal of the game when his skate got caught in a groove in the ice.

The Canadiens netminder was a bit non-chalant on Toronto's third goal of the game when he failed to freeze the puck near his crease. Patrick Marleau took advantage, sneaking the loose puck across the goal-line.

And Price, who signed a lucrative contract in the off-season, said he misread Matthews's shot on the overtime winner.

"It might have been our best game of the year," said Price. "Everyone played very well. Unfortunately I didn't play my best game of the year. If I would have played better, we'd be looking at this a different way."

Price has an uncharacteristic 3.45 goals-against average and a .885 save percentage after five games.

Notes: The Canadiens are 0-1-1 at home. … Defenceman David Schlemko, called up from the AHL on Saturday, was not in the lineup for Montreal.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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