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Canadiens vs Kings Recap: A strong effort falls short yet again

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Despite 45 shots on net, the Canadiens couldn't solve Jonathan Quick in a 3-0 loss Thursday night.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

On a night that belonged to Star Wars, the powerhouse Los Angeles Kings invaded the Bell Centre to take on a young Montreal Canadiens team looking to regain their place in the (hockey) universe.

The game started off slowly to say the least, with neither team generating a ton of dangerous chances until David Desharnais took a penalty for hooking. From that point on, the Habs controlled the game, starting on the penalty kill with both Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller having shorthanded breaks that led to scoring chances. Eller managed to draw a hooking penalty as he rang a shot off the post behind Jonathan Quick.

Montreal's power play didn't register a goal, but looked good, creating a lot of scoring chances that had Quick scrambling to track the puck. The Habs kept the momentum flowing to end the period, ending with a 17-7 shot advantage.

Much like the game against the San Jose Sharks, the reward for the Canadiens great effort was a scoreboard deficit. Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar, who had been quiet for most of the game, scored in quick succession to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. The tide turned in the Kings' favor after P.K. Subban took a penalty for interference, and watched as Doughty wired a shot past Mike Condon just seconds after he returned to the ice.

Not even two minutes later, with Alexei Emelin missing his stick, a slick passing play freed up Kopitar to fire the puck into an empty net with relative ease. Montreal still dominated the shot totals after two periods 30-16, but a red-hot Quick and a lot of bad luck kept the Canadiens out of the goal column.

The final frame yielded no better results for the Canadiens as they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Kings and came up with nothing to show for it. Several times it was due to Quick twisting and contorting to make a desperate save, and usually the team capitalizes on one of those chances. A late power play bore no fruit, even with Condon on the bench for a sixth skater, and a Marian Gaborik empty-net goal sent fans home upset.

The result — as unsatisfactory as it was — did have it's positive points however. The Habs put up 45 shots and dominated the flow of play against the top possession team in the NHL, and were done in mostly by the opposing goaltender.

Montreal now kicks off the annual late-December road trip, facing Dallas, Nashville, Minnesota, Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, Boston, and Philadelphia on an eight-game journey. It's won't be an easy road ahead for a team struggling to put the puck in the net.

Thoughts

  • The goal-scoring is lacking, that is undeniable, but it's not for lack of effort on the part of the team.

  • It's time to take the training wheels off of Daniel Carr, who I think would fit in nicely as a triggerman for Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec.

  • There isn't a whole lot of blame to put out in this game, everyone played well to my eye and limiting a team to 20 shots isn't dumb luck. Neither Michel Therrien nor the usual scapegoats had anything to do with the loss last night. The result just didn't reflect the 60 minutes of action.

  • You can, however, yell and curse about the team having bad luck, though. The team has averaged 35 shots a game in this current 1-6-0 stretch. Unfortunately those are going into the net just 4.5% of the time. That luck will eventually change. For the team's (and fans') sake, I hope it happens soon.