By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The struggling Canadiens were perfectly positioned snap their seven-game slide on Sunday night.
Holding a one-goal edge through 40 minutes of play, and successfully lulling the Bruins for the majority of the night, the Habs were leaving the game in the hands of Carey Price (their $10.5 million goaltender) and defensive philosophy.
Montreal also entered the third period with a 6-1-2 record in 2019-20 when leading after the second period, meaning this game was more than winnable, and was a must-win given the team’s rather dire situation in recent weeks.
But that plan went right out the window thanks to three unanswered goals from the Bruins in what finished as a 3-1 victory.
And speaking with reporters after the loss, Canadiens coach Claude Julien decided to focus his energy on the performance of the officiating, and the penalty he believed cost the Habs a chance at ending what is their worst slide in eight decades.
“I thought we played really, really well and then that penalty behind the net changed the outcome of the game,” Julien began. “And it’s unfortunate, it was a bad call. His stick, Krug’s stick, is stuck under his own player and as a referee in a 1-1 hockey game you’ve got to make sure when you make those calls, and I’m pissed off at the way that was handled.”
“[The referee was] not in a good position to see it, and he makes that call, ends up giving them the go-ahead goal and takes away an opportunity for us to win a hockey game. So, like you said, for 45, 46, 47 minutes we were playing solid hockey, and we needed that win desperately, and now we’ve got to go back home and find a way to win the next one.”
To Julien’s point, David Backes scored on that power-play opportunity drawn by Krug, and truly seemed to break the night open, as the Bruins extended their lead to two less than three minutes later behind a Jake DeBrusk strike.
Unfortunately for Julien’s rationale, however, the Canadiens still had 9:31 left in the game to tie things up, but managed to muster just one shot after the Backes goal, which came from defenseman Brett Kulak with 7:30 remaining in the game. That kind of non-response is borderline impressive, all things considered. Like, you almost have to actively try not to win a game.
It’s worth wondering how hot the seat under Julien, who signed a five-year contract with the Canadiens less than two weeks after being fired by the Bruins in Feb. 2017, is getting given Montreal’s straight-up free-fall in the Atlantic Division.
But when it comes to blaming the refs, perhaps Julien should consider the sides even given what happened to Charlie Coyle and the Bruins in their visit to the Bell Centre earlier this season.