VANCOUVER — Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said he remembered playing a game like this in the minors, but never during his Hall of Fame career in the NHL.
The Canadiens blew a 4-0 first-period lead Monday night at Rogers Place and ended up losing 7-6 to the Canucks in overtime.
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“It was rare back then when I played that you were up 4-0 and you were losing that game,” St. Louis said after Elias Pettersson scored the winning goal for the Canucks only 13 seconds into OT. “But the new NHL, it seems like it happens more and more.”
While this was a wild one, St. Louis remained calm when he met with the media after the game.
St. Louis tried to calm down his team by calling a timeout after Jack Studnicka scored at 8:49 of the third period to put the Canucks up 5-4.
“We called a timeout to try to manage the emotions we were going through, being so positive for so long and now couldn’t believe you’re actually down in this game,” St. Louis said. “It was a great opportunity for us with 11 minutes to go.”
The Canadiens almost made the most of that opportunity after the timeout when they got goals by Christian Dvorak at 15:23 of the third period and Josh Anderson at 17:00 to regain the lead after Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Sean Monahan and Michael Pezzetta had scored in the first period. It looked like the Canadiens might actually hold onto this lead and win the game.
But then defenceman Johnathan Kovacevic took a tripping penalty at 18:28 and Andrei Kuzmenko scored only seven seconds later after Canucks goalie Collin Delia was pulled to make it a six-on-four power play.
In overtime, Canadiens defenceman Mike Matheson fell down in front of the net while being checked by Pettersson, who then went in to score.
“It just happened quick,” Canadiens forward Jake Evans said about the OT goal. “Same thing with the sixth goal, too. It just happened so quickly. Tough luck. Just blew an edge (in overtime). They have a lot of skilled players that will make you pay on bad luck and errors.”
Rookie Canadiens defenceman Jordan Harris said he had never been involved in a game like this before, adding “it was definitely pretty nuts.”
Harris said it wasn’t a case of the Canadiens thinking the game was over after they took the 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
“There was a lot of energy and coming into the room there was no sigh of relief or: ‘Ah, we won this,'” he said. “There was nothing like that. It was just keep this thing going and play smart.
“It just shows how good the teams are in this league,” Harris added. “You can never let your foot off the gas or anything like that because it bites you in the ass in the end when you’re not playing well and you’re not being consistent.”
There are going to be a lot of growing pains this season for the young, rebuilding Canadiens, who saw their record fall to 12-11-2. There were quite a few of those pains on this night and also some lessons to be learned.
“It’s a hard league,” St. Louis said.
He added that learning to how to win is a process and that it’s even harder when he’s trying to implement the offensive style of play he wants the Canadiens to play moving forward.
“You can’t teach a team how to win and how you want to play as a team at the same time,” he said. “It’s two different things. So if I focus on the result tonight, yeah it’s disappointing being up 4-0. But if you really watch the game we could have been down 2-0 early and somehow we weren’t. We were up 4-0 and, honestly, halfway through the game we should have been up 6-0.
“Our good was really good tonight and just to try to focus on that — and we did,” he added. “Unfortunately, we take a penalty and they tie it up. I felt confident going into overtime with this group. We just kind of blew a wheel there on that play. The rest is history.”
St. Louis said he preferred to focus on the positives from the game instead of blowing the 4-0 lead.
“All things considering, the emotional roller-coaster we went through in this game and how we managed it, I’m proud of the guys,” he said.
Canadiens blow a 4-0 first-period lead and lose 7-6 to Canucks in OT
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