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Ten takeaways from the Canadiens vs Panthers game: Stealing defeat from the jaws of victory

A promising start came undone, as the Montreal Canadiens blew a 3-0 lead to lose to the Florida Panthers.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

1. Welcome back Brendan Gallagher.

Brendan Gallagher made a triumphant return to the line up, scoring his 19th goal of the season. The Canadiens controlled over 56% of even-strength shot attempts while Gallagher was on the ice.

More impressively, the trio of Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher all ended the night with with positive Corsi  differentials. With Montreal's first line being as successful as it is, one must wonder why coach Michel Therrien didn't see fit to create this line earlier on in the season.

2. Doctor Joel and Mr. Hanley.

Joel Hanley is continuing to put up points. With his assist on Gallagher's opening goal, Hanley now has six points (all assists) in seven games in the NHL this season. Yes, this is also the same defenceman who only managed to put up thirteen points (five goals, eight assists) in sixty one games with the St. John's IceCaps this season. Who is the real Joel Hanley?

3. The penalty on Alexei Emelin was bogus.

Alexei Emelin made an outstanding defensive play to keep the puck from trickling behind Mike Condon and prevented the Panthers from scoring a sure goal.

But in doing so, the defenceman unintentionally knocked the net off its moorings and was assessed a two minute delay of game penalty for his efforts.

He was assessed this penalty despite the rules clearly stating that "a minor penalty shall be imposed on any player who delays the game by deliberately displacing a goal post from its normal position. The Referee shall stop play immediately when the offending team gains control of the puck".

4. The Habs need to bubble wrap their defencemen.

Like clockwork, the Canadiens lost yet another player to injury during this game, with Brett Lernout being the latest casualty. The rookie lasted all of six minutes and thirty seconds before joining Montreal's injured list, after suffering a lower-body injury.

The Canadiens have had fourteen defencemen suit up for them so far this season and soon they will see number fifteen debuting for them as well. Expect the Canadiens to recall another defenceman from the St. John's IceCaps to replace the defenceman that was replacing a defenceman that was...

5. Young players are not being put in positions to succeed.

The Canadiens might as well put up a sign saying "young players need not try". None of Phillip Danault, Daniel Carr or Michael McCarron saw their ice time exceed 12 minutes. Not only did the trio see their minutes curbed, but they were not sheltered in this game at all.

The fourth line started more than 55% of their shifts in the defensive zone. McCarron in particular, was the least used forward on the team (playing a little over 10 minutes in the game) and started over 63% of his shifts in the defensive zone. The Canadiens have repeatedly stated that they are using the remaining games to evaluate their young talent, but it is unclear how using the players in this manner will allow the Canadiens to do as they say.

6. Montreal's third line was a problem all night long.

Despite getting the most shifts in the offensive zone, the third line didn't manage to generate much for the Canadiens. While David Desharnais did score a great goal early on in the game, the Panthers controlled nearly 75% of even-strength shot attempts while the third line was on the ice. To make matters worse, both David Desharnais and Sven Andrighetto received significant time on Montreal's first power play unit, yet neither player was able to put a single shot on net during the man advantage.

7. A brutal third period.

The Canadiens managed to steal defeat from the jaws of victory with this loss. For all intents and purposes, the Canadiens should have had this game in the bag but they unraveled through the end of the second and all of the third period, allowing the Panthers to get back into this game.

Montreal was able to keep shots on net relatively even until the third period, where the Panthers pulled away and out shot the Habs to a tune of 17 to 8. Florida capitalized on Montreal's conservatism through much of the third period to secure the win.

8. Jaromir Jagr is a hockey treasure.

The Czech legend has now scored 748 goals and has put up 1864 points so far in his career. To put that point total in perspective, all the prospects that the Canadiens have drafted since 2005 have only managed to produce 1671 points combined. And at 44 years of age, Jagr is still going strong.

9. Who is responsible for this mess?

Playing on the road, after being eliminated, should have been the perfect recipe for success. Montreal no longer had to deal with the pressure that accompanies making the playoffs, and they only had their pride left to play for. And yet they lost this game where they had every advantage.

The Canadiens aren't this bad of a team, and at some point, someone has to take responsibility for this mess.

Is it the coaching staff?

Is it the players?

Is it the injuries?

Is it being knocked out of the playoffs?

Why are the Canadiens still losing? It doesn't make sense. The only upside to performances like these is the prospect of gaining a higher draft pick, but with the NHL's new lottery system even that is not a guarantee.

10. Dealing with adversity.

This loss, much like this season, was full of ups and downs. Max Pacioretty has talked about adversity, and the effects it has on the locker room.

With three games left in the season, hopefully the Canadiens can muster enough resolve to end on a high note. In a sense, the Canadiens were lucky to not suffer this loss at the Bell Centre. The Montreal faithful wouldn't have been nearly as kind after sitting through a game like this.