The Montreal Canadiens entered Tuesday night’s game against the San Jose Sharks thinking it would be a prime opportunity to turn their poor start to the season around. Instead, it became another worrying display, as they lost 5-0 to their California opponent at the Bell Centre.
It was another dreadful start for the Canadiens. Just 1:22 into the game, Brent Burns fired a shot that was deflected in the high slot first by Timo Meier and then again by Jonathan Dahlen past Jake Allen. It was Dahlen’s first career NHL goal. It was the fourth straight game that Montreal allowed the first goal.
It got worse from there. Just over two minutes later, the Sharks had a two-on-one. Logan Couture’s shot was saved by Allen, and Dahlen picked up the loose puck and made no mistake on the open net for his second goal in the opening 3:36.
The team killed two penalties, including one in the final two minutes of the period where Allen made several big saves to keep it a two-goal game. Allen made 20 saves in the losing effort, and the penalty kill wouldn’t successfully kill another penalty for the remainder of the game, allowing two goals in two chances during the final two periods.
It was all for naught. The Sharks scored a third goal before the end of the period at even strength. Erik Karlsson’s point shot deflected off of David Savard and past Allen with 37.5 seconds remaining to give San Jose a 3-0 lead.
The second period started inauspiciously for the Canadiens, with an icing off the opening face off, but signs of life started shortly thereafter when a harmless looking point shot deflected in front and rang off the post behind Sharks goaltender Adin Hill.
Allen had to make two quick saves shortly after to keep it a 3-0 game before the Canadiens took a third straight penalty.
With Cole Caufield off for slashing, Timo Meier fired a shot from the circle past Allen to make it 4-0 for the visiting team.
After the goal, Josh Anderson got the Canadiens’ best chance of the night, but his breakaway was stopped by Hill. The Sharks goaltender made 21 saves for the shutout.
Shortly after, Montreal got their first power play of the game after a delay of game penalty by Jasper Weatherby.
The Canadiens didn’t score on the power play. Again. They did show a bit more in terms of attempts to make life difficult for the goaltender, but it was once again ended up being a series of passes that got deflected and shots that were blocked. They went 0/2 on the power play.
The penalty kill once again struggled in the third period when Kevin LaBanc scored late in the third period to make the score 5-0.
Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said after the game that unlike the loss against Buffalo that he did like the way they played after falling behind, noting the posts that they hit and how it could have been a different game if one of those chances went in while the game was still within reach.
The main issue is the way that they started the game. Saying the right things only gets you so far when the opponent is up by two goals less than four minutes into the game. Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher were both frustrated and are both two players that are counted on to be leaders on this team.
As bad as the start to the season is, it is only a four-game losing streak. Those streaks can happen, especially in an 82-game season. Like Gallagher said, the Canadiens won’t be defined by this run of play, but rather what they do in response to it.
They get a chance to turn it around on Thursday night at the Bell Centre when they will welcome Jesperi Kotkaniemi and the Carolina Hurricanes.