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Mental lapses squandered a winnable game for the Canadiens

Badly timed lapses hamstrung a dominant Montreal effort on Thursday.

NHLI via Getty Images

Montreal hasn’t won a game in San Jose in over one Jesperi Kotkaniemi lifespan, and on Thursday night the Canadiens put forth an incredible effort that gave them a shot to break that drought. They jumped all over the Sharks from the opening whistle, piling up shot and scoring chances for a full 60 minutes.

And it was all undone by some incredibly bad lapses in play by the Canadiens at crucial points in the game.

Antti Niemi faced a minor workload in the first (five total), and still allowed two brutally soft goals against in the opening 20 minutes, almost immediately handcuffing his teammates with a poor start. The Canadiens battled back though, and through a period of play owned a massive edge in overall possession. They also got a well-deserved goal out of it.

As Clint Eastwood once said, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it,” and on an attempt to break up a Joe Thornton pass, Phillip Danault chipped the puck into his own net. Then in the third period while looking for a tying goal, the Canadiens, namely Nate Thompson, went out and beat themselves.

In an otherwise very good game for the entire fourth line, Thompson picked an inopportune time for a “controller disconnected” moment. His lack of effort on Timo Meier’s goal basically put the game out of reach in the third period, and it came in a game that Montreal just as easily could have won 5-2.

The Sharks took advantage of mistakes, but this game was right there for the taking for Montreal, and they ended up beating themselves. At this time of the year, with playoffs looming, the Canadiens cannot afford to make it easy on other teams in close games.