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In the Habs' room: Hard to develop a winning culture while adding up losses

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2022-04-25 Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette
Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Montreal Canadiens takes down Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins near goaltender Jeremy Swayman #1 during the second period at Centre Bell on April 24, 2022 in Montreal. © Provided by The Gazette Mathieu Perreault #85 of the Montreal Canadiens takes down Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins near goaltender Jeremy Swayman #1 during the second period at Centre Bell on April 24, 2022 in Montreal.
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On an emotional night marked by a tribute to Guy Lafleur, Canadiens coach Marty St. Louis said the memory of the Hall of Famer helped inspire his team.

The Canadiens came up short against the Boston Bruins, losing 5-3, but St. Louis was proud of the way his team rallied with two third-period goals and was pressing for the tie when Patrice Bergeron dashed their hopes with an empty-net goal.

“I think if you saw our third period, it was very similar to yesterday’s third period, and there was no  quitting,” said St. Louis. “I tell the guys when you quit in anything, there’s one guarantee — you’re not going to get what you wanted.”

Nick Suzuki, who scored his 21st goal to bring the Canadiens to within a goal of the Bruins in the third period, said the players had a better appreciation of the role hockey plays in Montreal after the pregame tribute to Lafleur.

Sam Montembeault, who kept the Canadiens close with 37 saves, noted the presence of a dozen of Lafleur’s teammates, including Hall of Famers Yvan Cournoyer and Bob  Gainey, who were seated behind the Montreal bench

“Maybe there are players like (Alexander) Romanov, who comes from Russia, who know them less (but It was special for him to see all these people, who represent the Canadiens,” said Montembeault. “I, too, watched the team when I was young and it was special to see them today.”

“Guy is a legend and to have that standing ovation for him — I don’t know how long it was — but it was awesome to be part of if it and  it’s something everyone on the ice will never forget,” Suzuki said.

“I thought it was pretty funny that the fans wouldn’t allow the announcer to speak, but it shows how much Guy meant to this city, the province, even the country to get that ovation,” added Suzuiki. “It was definitely pretty cool..”

What definitely isn’t cool is that the Canadiens lost their ninth consecutive game.

On the plus side, the latest loss brings the Canadiens one step closer to a last-place finish, which would give them the best chance to win the draft lottery. With only two games remaining, the Canadiens are tied with Arizona at 51 points but the Coyotes have a game in hand and also have the edge over Montreal if the teams finish tied in points.

At the same time, the losses make it difficult for the organization to develop a winning culture, even if the Canadiens didn’t make it easy on the Bruins — who came into the game with a 50-point edge over Montreal in the standings.

Montreal climbed back into the game with third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Suzuki and tested Jeremy Swayman twice in the final minute before Bergeron scored his second goal of the game.

The power play was a bright spot for the Canadiens. Josh Anderson scored a power-play goal in the second period and Hoffman’s third-period goal gave Montreal two power-play goals on four opportunities. The Bruins failed to get a shot on goal on their lone power play.

On Saturday, the Canadiens travelled to Ottawa and lost 6-4 to the Senators.

The highlight for the Canadiens was Cole Caufield’s 20th goal and the low point was a 69-second span in the second period that saw the Senators score three goals to take a 5-1 lead.

The loss was a team effort as the Canadiens made a series of defensive mistakes and Carey Price never raised the level of his game above ordinary. He’ll was rested Sunday and the Canadiens said he won’t accompany the team to New York for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. He is a possibility to start Friday when the Canadiens wrap up the season against Florida.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

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