Reeling Canadiens aim to stop slide vs. Devils

Five consecutive losses are bad enough, however the Montreal Canadiens find themselves trying to get back on their feet after a particularly disastrous one.

The Canadiens will attempt to rebound from that result on Thursday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

"With us right now, it's not the amount of mistakes, it's the type of mistakes we're making. I think we're making mistakes where they're getting opportunities that are very, very high-danger chances," forward Brendan Gallagher said on the heels of Tuesday's 8-1 loss to Boston.

"We're really leaving our goaltending out to dry right now. It's just about being more alert and sharper. You just can't make the mistakes we're making right now."

Montreal's swoon is quickly making a solid first quarter of the season a distant memory. And as the Tampa Bay Lightning appear to be recovering from their early-season struggles and the Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be rebounding under new head coach Sheldon Keefe, making the postseason will become harder and harder.

Mistakes are coachable, but bench boss Claude Julien's words about his team's reaction to a goal that put them down by three against the Bruins is of more concern.

"I feel like we melted down after that," Julien said of his team's response after David Pastrnak scored eight seconds into the second period to make it a 4-1 game. "Mentally, we weren't strong enough to rebound. I think at that point, you want to talk about confidence, we stopped believing at that point and we got sloppy."

The Devils arrive in Montreal with their own struggles.

New Jersey, which sits above only the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference standings, has lost three of four games. The latest setback came on Tuesday, courtesy of a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild.

The Devils twice erased one-goal deficits against the Wild, but couldn't find a third equalizer against Minnesota goalie Kaapo Kakhonen in his NHL debut.

"I thought we did a lot of good things," forward Kyle Palmieri said. "I think we knew they were going to defend well. They have a guy playing his first NHL game, so obviously they were trying to battle for him. They blocked a lot of shots at the end in the third."

Still, coach John Hynes believes his team needed to do more to either gain a lead of its own or rebound after falling behind after the eventual game-winning goal that came three minutes into the third period.

"You wind up scoring that goal, tie the game (in the second period). We had a little bit of a push in the third period but you didn't build off the goal," Hynes said. "Execution is the biggest part of it. Even late in the game, we had the goalie pulled and had 10-15 foot passes bouncing off sticks."

Then again, Hynes wasn't happy with his team's performance to start the game, either.

"Our execution, particularly early in the game, was not where it needed to be. It's a riddle we need to solve," Hynes said.

Forward Taylor Hall has collected two goals and four assists in his last five games for New Jersey, which posted a 4-3 overtime victory in Montreal on Nov. 16.

--Field Level Media
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