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Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens quit in horrific 4-1 loss to the Sabres

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Montreal Canadiens goalie Sam Montembeault

The Montreal Canadiens have thrown in the towel.

“The Sabres are all over the Canadiens right now.”

“Buffalo have turned up the heat on the Habs.”

“No push back.”

Against the perennially awful Buffalo Sabres.

Those were just some of the laughably accurate calls on the broadcast of Friday night’s game. They all said one thing.

This team has quit. On their coach. On the season. And on each other.

They won’t say it out loud. But boy, are they showing it.

The Habs actions in their 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres were worth a thousand words.

Meanwhile their fans are left to twist furiously in the wind with no answers in sight.

Petry-fied

The Montreal Canadiens continued their endless narrative of mindlessly erratic play after a sloppy first period that saw ugly turnovers by both teams lead to goals for Tage Thompson and Josh Anderson respectively.

The Habs didn’t build on a so-so first. Instead they cratered in a horrific second period. And it was their much-maligned top defenceman who continued to make bad decisions that led to goals and scoring chances against.

Jeff Petry is still making rookie mistakes at an alarming rate. The Canadiens defenceman started things off with a brutal turnover between his blueline and the red line that led to a breakaway against. But his effort level moments later was the most egregious thing he did all night.

Petry drove with the puck into the Sabres zone and went all the way around the net. The Habs blueliner ran out of ideas as he drifted back towards the blueline and got his pocket picked. Buffalo broke back on a 3-on-2. But instead of busting a lung trying to get back to even up the numbers, Petry coasted on the backcheck. Vinnie Hinastroza slid a pass over to Cody Eakin and the Habs were down 2-1.

His fragile confidence was shot after that and he couldn’t regain a foothold in the game. He continued to make awful decisions with the puck. The Habs won’t sit Petry. They can’t in the first year of a long-term contract extension. But it might be time to send him on a short vacation to re-calibrate. Whether it’s an injury or just a season from hell, Petry continued to hurt himself and his team.

Shocking stats in the second

Before you read these advanced statistics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, just know the Montreal Canadiens had a four-minute power-play. In which the Sabres scored a shorthanded goal due partially to an inaccurate pass by Jonathan Drouin. But mostly due to a nauseatingly half-assed backcheck by Nick Suzuki, who has a single point in his past seven games.

Buffalo outshot the Habs 14-2 in the middle period. The Sabres had eight scoring chances.

The Canadiens? Zero.

High-danger chances? Make that five for Buffalo and another goose egg for the Habs.

Expected goals? 0.02. (!?!?!?!?!?)

With a four-minute penalty.

Truly horrendous.

The Habs might have been physically out there in the second period. But their heart, their spirit and their effort were somewhere else entirely.

More misery

In the third period, the Montreal Canadiens came out with an actual pulse the first three minutes, clearly embarrassed by what occurred in the second period. But as has been their calling card this season, the Habs good play came in spurts. Short bursts that lasted for a shift or two before the team reverted back to the lost look they have perfected 22 games in.

Alexander Romanov tried to provide a spark in the third by stepping up in the neutral zone on 6-foot-7 Thompson. But a lackadaisical change and poor defensive zone coverage undid his effort to try and get his teammates going. Jake Evans and Mattias Norlinder were caught in no-man’s land as the puck went from low to high in the slot back to Thompson. He scored his second of the game and stared down the Russian for good measure as the Sabres jumped out to a crushing 4-1 lead.

To lose is one thing. Appearing to quit while losing is another. The Habs season is lost but their players and coaching staff have to have a level of professional pride to not make it look like it.

Next up for the Canadiens? Only the second night of a back-to-back against the team who levelled them 6-0 last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow night.

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