MONTREAL — The Canadiens have found their star goaltender, but their offense is now missing.
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, Cam Talbot stopped 26 shots and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
Carey Price was on his second start this season and the Habs were shut out each time.
“For sure it would be nice to score goals for Carey and it’s not that we aren’t trying or that the effort isn’t there,” insisted the Canadiens’ interim head coach. , Martin St-Louis.
The Canadian lacked cohesion at the start of the match, but did well thereafter. He was, however, unable to deceive Talbot’s vigilance.
“I think we’ve proven that we can play with pretty much everyone when we play our game,” St-Louis said. But it takes everyone on the bus. If there are not enough people on the bus, it is difficult. But tonight everyone was there.
“The first few minutes were difficult, but we got back together and played a very good game. It’s a shame there was a disallowed goal. We just couldn’t score.”
The St-Louis troupe suffered a sixth loss in a row. The Canadian (20-46-11) was shut out for the seventh time this season.
Price made 28 saves.
Matt Boldy also hit the target for the Wild (48-21-7), who have won five of their last six games.
Forwards Paul Byron, Laurent Dauphin and Mathieu Perreault and defender Jordan Harris had been inserted into the training in relief to Michael Pezzetta (suspension), Jake Evans (virus), Joel Armia (family reasons) and Corey Schueneman.
Byron’s work night only lasted 4:41. He did not return to the bench after the first intermission and the team said he suffered an upper-body injury.
St-Louis said Byron has been bothered by the injury for a few weeks now. However, it was too early to say if the fast winger would have to put an end to the rest of the campaign.
“He fights every day to play. He wants to be with the team. (…) He is a combative player and a good player and it is difficult not to be able to count on him 100%”, said St-Louis about Byron.
The Canadiens will play their next game on Thursday, when the Philadelphia Flyers are the visitors at the Bell Centre.
Unable to buy a goal
The Habs had all the trouble in the world to get out of their territory at the start of the game, but things settled down afterwards.
The Wild had to find themselves on the power play to open the scoring at 6:57 of the first period. Fiala took advantage of a nice pass from Mats Zuccarello to beat Price with a one-timer.
The Canadian came close to replying when he too deployed his massive attack. Josh Anderson, however, was unable to shoot into an open net following a cross pass from Nick Suzuki.
The Habs got away with it on another power play, while it was the Wild who knocked twice on the door, without scoring.
Tyler Pitlick threatened late in the first period for the Canadian, also outnumbered. He escaped, but saw Talbot make the save with his mitt.
The game was less animated in the second period. Rem Pitlick in turn came up against Talbot during a breakaway.
The Canadian also saw a goal from Tyler Pitlick be canceled during a challenge from the coach. Video officials ruled that Dauphin shoved Frédérick Gaudreau into Talbot, preventing him from being able to make the save.
The Wild doubled their lead 2:29 into the third period. Boldy did it twice to beat Price.
The Canadian came back to life after a good presence from Perreault, Dauphin and Brendan Gallagher.
Suzuki was able to charge to the net with just over 11 minutes left in the game. Talbot, however, made the save with the toe of the left skate.
The Canadian’s last efforts were undermined by a penalty against Harris for clearing the puck in the stands, then another against Jeff Petry for tripping.
Locker Room Echoes
Tyler Pitlick said the Canadian was encouraged by some of his recent performances, even as the losses continued to pile up.
“It’s hard to lose, but we played good games, good periods. We try to keep morale high. We played a good match today. The puck didn’t go our way, but we fought well against one of the good teams in the league. We hope to gain confidence with this performance and turn things around in the next games.”
Cole Caufield admitted he would like to see the team support Carey Price a little better.
“We played good hockey in his two starts. It’s a shame we didn’t score for him, but we have to build on those performances. We play well in front of him, but we have to find a way to score goals.
Carey Price was happy to note an improvement in his game on his second start.
“It was less emotional than the first start and I was more comfortable, in general. It’s less chaotic in front of me. After a long absence, it’s not easy to read the game well, but I already feel that things are slowing down in front of me.