In the Habs' Room: Price praises Giroux; Julien points to penalties

PHILADELPHIA — Carey Price had a simple answer when asked why the Canadiens came out on the short end of a 5-3 decision against the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday at Wells Fargo Center. 

“Claude Giroux,” he said, after the pride of Hearst, Ont., scored a goal and added two assists to spark the Flyers’ offence.

“He’s definitely got great vision and he’s pretty shifty out there,” Price said. “He always seems to be in a good position to make a play.”

Giroux’s talent was on display in the beginning of the third period with the score tied 2-2 and the Flyers on the power play. Giroux had the puck on the left wing, but he passed up a shot in favour of a pass to Jakub Voracek, who was moving in on the right wing. The puck was in the net before Price had time to react. 

“That’s a pretty good showcase of what he can do out there,” Price said. “He was in a prime shooting spot and he put a saucer pass right on the player’s stick. Sometimes, you have to tip your hat to a guy who’s playing that well.”

It was the second power play of the night for the Flyers, and Montreal coach Claude Julien felt special teams were the difference in this game.

“Those penalties hurt us,” said Julien, who wasn’t happy that veteran Tomas Plekanec took three stick penalties and was in the box when Voracek scored the go-ahead goal. “Their power play seemed to be going well tonight and our penalty kill wasn’t good enough, so that really hurt us. I thought 5-on-5 we were good. We competed with them, but those penalties cost us in the end.”

One major concern early in the season was the Canadiens’ tendency to give up a second goal immediately after being scored upon. On 13 occasions, the Canadiens have given up two goals within a minute. Montreal almost made it 14 in Thursday’s game. Travis Konecny’s second goal of the night gave Philadelphia a 4-2 lead 61 seconds after Voracek’s goal.  

Julien said this situation was different from the problems earlier in the year, but his explanation highlighted another concern.

“The power-play goal was a power-play goal, and then (on the second goal) the puck was loose and nobody sees it except for them and it was jammed in,” Julien said. “We had got the puck back to the corner on that draw, and we weren’t able to win that battle in the corner. They got possession of the puck and they made us pay for it.”

The Flyers got the puck to the point for a shot from Shayne Gostisbehere, which trickled through Price’s pads.

“I thought (Price) had it, but there was no whistle and I saw the referee looking at the loose puck and I got my stick in there,” said Konecny. 

While the Canadiens felt they had competed, it didn’t necessarily mean they were successful.

“Winning battles is one of our challenges,” Julien said.”We’ve talked about that since the beginning of the year. We’ve got a little bit better, but we have to be better than that. You bring in guys like (Nikita) Scherbak who have a little more size, and you hope you’re going to win more battles. It’s about being smart but it also helps to be big and strong.”

One battle the Canadiens did win was at centre ice where Artturi Lehkonen stripped the puck from Voracek and took off to score a short-handed goal. He has three goals in the last two games after going 23 games without a goal. 

“When you score after going so many games without a goal, it takes a load off your back,” Lehkonen said. “But I still have a lot of work to do.”