In the Habs’ Room: Canadiens fall back on bad habits in 5-4 loss to Arizona

Sloppy.

That’s the best way to describe the Canadiens’ 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes Thursday night at the Bell Centre. 

It’s the kind of game you might expect from the Coyotes, a young team with the worst record in the NHL. But the Canadiens came away from this game realizing that they missed an opportunity to climb in the standings.

“This is the way we were playing early in the season,” said Brendan Gallagher. “We got better at it, but tonight, we fell into some old habits and we were sloppy. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. This is the NHL, and if we’re not playing Montreal Canadiens hockey, we’re not going to have success. But we got sloppy, we didn’t work.”

This was a game filled with turning points. The Canadiens took a 2-0 lead in the first period and it looked like it was going to be an easy night. But coach Claude Julien said the first turning point came when Nicolas Deslauriers, who was making his first appearance in a Canadiens uniform, dropped the gloves with Zac Rinaldo.

“In the second period, we got sloppy,” said Julien. “The fight gave them the energy. We didn’t respect our game plan because we thought it was going to be easy. We talked about it for two days. The result was unacceptable, embarrassing. There’s no excuse tonight.”

The game deteriorated into a series of end-to-end rushes, but the Canadiens came out of the second period with a 4-3 lead, and they started the third period with a power play. That’s when things went off the rails. Not only did the Canadiens fail to score, but they gave up two short-handed breakaways. Charlie Lindgren made the saves, but the momentum had swung to the visitors.