A major defensive mistake followed by a bad penalty midway through the first period led to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the the Blue Jackets in columbuTuesday night. Rick Nash opened the scoring off  a 2-on-1 break at 12.34 of the period. Less than a minute later Benoit Pouliot was issued an incautious penalty for boarding and within seconds Derick Brassard had scored to make it 2-0. The goals were 1:23 apart.  From that point on, the Canadiens had little to offer. Kyle Wilson scored the third goal in the third period. Mathieu Garon stopped all 29 Canadiens shots for the shutout.

With the Canadiens offense struggling, coach Jacques Martin juggled his lines liberally through the 2nd and third periods to no avail.   It’s the first time the Canadiens have lost two games in a row this season.  (Game Highlights Below)

How It Went

The First Period

The Opening Act – The Canadiens took four shots on Garon over the first two minutes and three shifts. Kostitsyn and Plekanec in the first 16 seconds plus Subban and Spacek who’s shot caused a goalmouth struggle. The first Columbus shot came at 4:49. By the midpoint of the period the Canadiens were leadiing on the shot-clock 7-3.

The Hapless Power Play – Derek Dorsett was chased for boarding at 9:51 for boarding Spacek. The Canadiens managed one shot on goal, a 65 footer by Roman Hamrlik.

Disaster – In the 13th minute with the score still 0-0, Hal Gill was caught pinching at the Columbus blueline, Jakub Voracek broke loose on a 2-on-1. He set up Rick Nash for a 30 foot wrist shot into the top corner on Carey Price to make it 1-0.

Ill Advised – Forty-four seconds later Benoit Pouliot was handed a two minute penalty for boarding Nikita Filatov in the offensive zone.

Missed Assignment – Killing the penalty, Josh Gorges and Hal Gill missed checks on Anton Stralman. Voracek to Derick Brassard. 2 shots on goal. 2 goals. 2-0 Columbus.

Losing It – The Canadiens had no ‘game’ the rest of the period. The only notable opportunity came in the 15th minute when Andrei Markov forced Garon to make a tough save and Michael Cammalleri put the rebound on goal. End of the first period – Columbus 2 Montreal 0. Montreal outshot Columbus 10-9 thanks to their seven shots in the first ten minutes.

The Second Period

No Presence – The Canadiens took the first three shots of the period from 40, 57 and 33 feet.

Penalty Trouble – Another offensive zone penalty. Tomas Plekanec was called for slashing when he broke his stick checking Marc Methot at 2.32.

Price Checks In – Of the four shots on the power play, Carey Price had to make two outstanding saves on Voracek lost his stick and Josh Gorges had to clear the puck out of the crease as the net came off it’s moorings.

Game Changer – Midway through the period Cammalleri dished a perfect pass from behind the net to a pinching P.K. Subban. Garon just got his right pad on the shot.

Going To The Net – In the second period from the so-called 20 foot “dirty” area in front of the net Only Gionta and Markov late in the period showed any desire to get involved. Still 2-0 after two periods . Columbus outshot the Canadiens 11-9 in the second.

The Third Period

The Last Power Play – The Canadiens had the extraman for the first 59 seconds of the period and failed to get a shot. On the night 0-for-3 on the power play and five shots on goal, none major scoring chances.

Still Keeping It Close – In the fourth minute Kostitsyn handed the puck to Filatov who had a clear breakaway. Price stopped him. Still 2-0.

The Last Chance – At 5:13 Benoit Pouliot had the whole top of the net to shoot at with Garon down and couldn’t lift the puck. Got his pad on it.

The Final Nail – One minute later, with the Canadiens pressing to get on the board, Gill and Gorges were completely caught when fourth liners Jared Boll broke out on a 2-on-1 with only forward Travis Moen to defend. Boll to Kyle Wilson to end the misery. 3-0 final score. Final shots on goal 29-24 Canadiens.

Summing It Up – In hindsight the Canadiens malaise started to set in the middle period of last Friday’s game at Long Island. The Canadiens survived that one with a two-goal third period. But that’s it. They were awful at home against Florida on Saturday and that story as extended in Columbus Tuesday night in a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. The Plekanec line stopped scoring three games ago. The Gomez line hasn’t scored all year. The goal drought is 117:22.  The power play is 0 for it’s last 9 opportunities involving 16:15 of manpower advantage.  Another really rough night for Jaroslav Spacek but he was only part of what can only be termed a “team loss”.  Carey Price got the third star and there’s nobody else worth mentioning on this night.  Look for a shakeup before Friday’s game in Buffalo. In the third period Martin had Eller on right wing with Plekanec and Cammalleri, Kostitsyn on the left side with Gomez and Gionta. Moen went back to playing with Boyd and Lapierre.

Notes- Brian Gionta has not scored in his last 33 shots on goal dating back eight games to the 1:06 mark of the first period vs. Ottawa October 16 at the Bell Centre. Scott Gomez is without a goal in 10 games dating back to the second game of the season.The Canadiens power play is league worst 3-for-42 7.1%. 

The Game Video Highlights

The Goalscorers – Columbus – Rick Nash (4) (Voracek); Brassard (4) PPG (Voracek-Stralman); Wilson (3rd) (Boll-MacKenzie). Montreal – None

Shots on Goal – Montreal 10-9-10 = 29 Columbus 9-11-4 = 24.

The Fan’s Three Stars – First – Mathieu Garon (shutout-29 saves) Second – Derick Brassard (1 goal – 5 shots) Third – Carey Price (stopped 21 of 24 shots)