Canadiens revert to bad form
For this loss, they can't blame anyone but themselves.
MONTREAL - Less than 48 hours had passed since the Montreal Canadiens had dismantled the Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
It was ample time, apparently, for the Canadiens to forget the formula they used to such great success.
They instead reverted to the team that not only couldn't score in the first two games of the series, but also couldn't even generate many legitimate chances in a 3-0 Game 4 loss Saturday.
"I don't think it was what they did. I think it's more about what we've done," said Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec, the team's leading point-getter in the regular season. He still is seeking his first in the series.
"We didn't play well at all. We didn't support each other. We didn't put the puck deep like we did the game before. After the second period, we said we would start playing better. We had some better chances, but it was far from good enough to win the game."
The lack of offensive cohesion gave Flyers goalie Michael Leighton his third shutout of the series, the first time that has happened in the storied 101-year history of the Montreal franchise.
And the Canadiens have no one but themselves to blame, because not once was Leighton forced into a spectacular save. He stopped 17 shots.
Montreal generated only one shot on goal in the second period, when the Flyers got all the offense they needed on breakaway goals by Claude Giroux and Ville Leino.
"We didn't get the puck deep in the second period. We turned the puck [over] numerous times," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said.
"We played in what you call a danger zone, if you ask me. The blue lines are usually dangerous zones. At your own blue line, you have to get the puck out, and the offensive line, you have to get the puck deep."
In their 5-1 Game 3 victory, the Canadiens consistently chipped the puck past Flyers defensemen at the blue line and pressured them into costly turnovers.
But in Game 4, the Canadiens abandoned that strategy, deciding to stickhandle into the offensive zone to no avail, and often turning the puck over.
The most egregious example came late in the second, when rookie defenseman P.K. Subban dangled over the Flyers' blue line and turned the puck over to Chris Pronger, who found Leino for the goal that made it 2-0 and sapped the energy from the sellout crowd of 21,273.
"You learn that you've got to be more patient," Subban said. "Even though we're down, 1-0 [at the time], you've got to be patient and let the game come. You learn that, and next time you get the puck deep."
They are down, three games to one, in the series, so next time might not come till next season.