Road warrior Habs open trek in Vancouver

NHL Hockey

Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien is the first to admit his team has played differently on the road this season as compared to home games.

Surprisingly, the Canadiens have been better away.

The Canadiens, who close out 2019 with a seven-game trip that begins Tuesday at Vancouver, are 7-4-3 on the road compare to 8-8-3 at home.

“We’ve been good on the road, we haven’t been good enough at home,” Julien told reporters after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to lowly Detroit at Bell Centre. “We don’t play as hard at home. So far, we haven’t played as hard as we have on the road, so that needs to change.”

The Canadiens’ leading scorer, Tomas Tatar, tallied with 47 seconds remaining in the loss. Goaltender Carey Price made 18 saves.

“He kept us a long time in the game,” Tatar said of Price. “And we just have to find a way to score a goal. And I think a power-play (goal) would have helped us a lot, maybe get one on the board and tie the game in the middle, so unfortunately we didn’t get it.”

The Canadiens were 4-1-0 in their previous five games after an 0-5-3 slump.

“It goes back to the same thing, if you want to score goals, go to the net, find ways to outwork the goalie,” Canadiens forward Brian Gallagher said. “We didn’t do that (Saturday), and we probably got the result we deserved.”

Added Julien: “There were some guys who went to the front of the net, but we had a lot of guys that didn’t want to get on the inside there. I felt we played a little bit soft (Saturday) at times, and we weren’t finishing, we weren’t in the battle, and we just kind of looked to play an easier game than we should have. And because of that, we got burnt.”

The Canucks have also been up and down, losing three of their past four games after winning three of the previous four.

Vancouver is coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday night in Las Vegas. Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist, and Elias Pettersson and Jake Virtanen also tallied.

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals in favor of Michael DiPietro, who was called up from Utica of the American Hockey League after backup Thatcher Demko suffered a concussion in practice last Wednesday.

“(We) looked a half-step behind most of the night,” said Canucks coach Travis Green, whose team lost 4-2 at San Jose the previous night. “They come at you hard and if you’re not good with the puck and a half-step behind, you are going to look like we did (Sunday).”

The Canucks dropped to 6-12-4 when their opponent scores first and 2-10-1 when trailing after the first period.

“It’s well known you don’t want to give up the first goal in the league,” Green said. “It’s hard to come back in this league. But I think that was the least of our worries (Sunday). We weren’t very good.”

–Field Level Media

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