In the Habs Room: We weren t ready, Weber says as Predators get jump on Montreal
|Montreal Gazette 06 Jan 2019 at 07:24|
There isn’t always an advantage to playing a team that is on the tail end of a back-to-back series, particularly if that team is upset about losing the previous night.
The Canadiens learned that lesson the hard way Saturday when they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Nashville Predators at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens should have been rested and rarin’ to go against the Predators, who arrived in Montreal in the wee hours on Saturday morning after losing 4-3 in overtime to the Red Wings on Friday in Detroit. But it was the Predators who displayed the energy as they jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back.
“We weren’t ready,” said captain Shea Weber , who scored the only Montreal goal. “They lost a game in overtime last night and they weren’t happy about it and they came in here and took it to us in the first period. They’re a tough team to come back against. I think they’ve lost only two games this season when they’re leading after the first period.
“It was kind of a quiet game in that regard,” Weber said when asked whether the Canadiens lacked emotion. “It’s tough when you don’t have anything going, you can’t feed off nothing.”
Weber and fellow defenceman Jordie Benn tried to fire up their teammates with a couple of big hits. Benn took out Frédérick Gaudreau in the first period while Weber delivered a punishing open-ice check on Rocco Grimaldi in the second period.
“(Benn’s) hit was in the first and we had a slow first and his intentions and my intention in the second was to get some life, but it didn’t seem to work,” Weber said.
Brendan Gallagher said the Predators were able to control the pace of the game.
“They were able to slow us down,” Gallagher said. “The lesson we have to learn from this game is that we have to be able to make little adjustments on the fly. You have to be able to talk as a line about how you can change things and tonight, it was the same thing for three periods. We were either turning it over or being slowed down and we didn’t have that close support on the forecheck.”
While Montreal still has 40 games to play, the loss was a costly one. The Canadiens had an opportunity to move ahead of the slumping Buffalo Sabres into the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they dropped out of the second wild-card spot. They fell behind the New York Islanders, who rallied to win 4-3 in St. Louis. The Islanders are now one point up on the Canadiens, but they also hold two games in hand.
Montreal did show some life in the second period when Weber scored his sixth goal of the season, but Craig Smith gave the momentum back to the Predators when he scored his second goal of the game on the next shift to give Nashville a 3-1 lead.
The second Smith goal survived a coach’s challenge after Claude Julien contended Smith interfered with Carey Price .
“I haven’t had a chance to look at the replay, but (the referee) told me the contact was outside the crease,” Price said. “But it’s a moot point because that was the third goal and we only scored one.”
Next up for the Canadiens is a Monday night home game against the Minnesota Wild and the Canadiens will be hoping to take some motivation from their 7-1 loss to the Wild last month in St.Paul.
“As a professional athlete, it’s not fun to be embarrassed like that,” Gallagher said. “It was tough walking out of the arena after being beat that badly and we want to respond better (Monday).”