Canadiens fall out of playoff position after 6-2 loss in Columbus
|Montreal Gazette 28 Mar 2019 at 19:10|
COLUMBUS â€” It was the biggest game of the season for the Canadiens, even if coach Claude Julien wouldnâ€™t say so after Thursdayâ€™s morning skate at Nationwide Arena.
â€śAccording to a lot of people, the last game was the biggest and the one before was the biggest,â€ť he said. â€śSo itâ€™s hard to say. But we all know that this one here has a lot of stake and we realize that. But this game doesnâ€™t have as much at stake if we donâ€™t win the last game. So weâ€™ve really looked at one game at a time. We acknowledge the fact that this is huge for us and itâ€™s huge for them. So it is a big game, but weâ€™re going to try and approach it the same way weâ€™ve approached every other one so far. Itâ€™s served us well.â€ť
It didnâ€™t serve them well Thursday night as the Canadiens lost 6-2 to the Blue Jackets and fell out of the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets and Canadiens both have 90 points now, but Columbus holds a game in hand. Both teams trail the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost 3-2 to the Washington Capitals Thursday night, by one point. The Hurricanes also hold a game in hand on the Canadiens, who have four games left.
Brett Kulak and Jeff Petry scored for the Canadiens. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice for the Blue Jackets, while David Savard, Artemi Panarin, Riley Nash and Brandon Dubinsky (empty net) added singles.
There have been nights this season when the Canadiens havenâ€™t showed up to start a game, but this wasnâ€™t one of them. Kulak opened the scoring on a soft point shot at 1:15 of the first period that beat Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. When the Blue Jackets finally got their first shot on Carey Price at the 10:15 mark, the Columbus fans cheered. Shortly before that, one fan had shouted out: â€śWake up!â€ť
They certainly did and the Blue Jackets ended up outshooting the Canadiens 30-28.
This loss was a big one for a young Canadiens team that wasnâ€™t expected to make the playoffs when the season started.
â€śIf we hadnâ€™t done as well this year, we wouldnâ€™t be playing in these kind of situations,â€ť Julien said after the morning skate. â€śGuys like (Jesperi) Kotkaniemi, (Victor) Mete, some of those young guys that havenâ€™t had a ton of experience there would not be able to face that. So itâ€™s good. Right now weâ€™re in a battle for the playoffs. A guy like (Max) Domi wants to play in the playoffs for the first time. Thereâ€™s a lot that we can gain from this. Itâ€™s up to us to really take advantage of it, play the right way and give ourselves the best chance possible of winning.â€ť
Now the last four games will all be the biggest game of the season.