Josh Gorges feels the Canadiens need a little extra grit.
Montreal played uninspired hockey for the better part of three periods in their 2-1 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
The Canadiens (9-8-2) had taken only 13 shots after two periods, many of which weren’t terribly difficult for Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop to deal with. Bishop made 28 saves on the night for Tampa Bay (13-5-0)
“We caught ourselves chasing, we weren’t supporting the play, we weren’t supporting the puck,” said Gorges. “When you do that, you just end up skating all over the place.
“If you don’t play with that extra grit, that intensity, jumping onto loose pucks, being first on pucks, that’s what happens.”
Captain Brian Gionta agreed: “We had nothing, we didn’t create anything.”
The Canadiens didn’t generate much offence for the first two periods, but were kept in the game by Carey Price, who made 44 saves on the night, including six in overtime.
“That was a big performance by Carey Price,” said head coach Michel Therrien. “Carey gave us a chance to stick in the game.”
It was a gut-check for Tampa Bay, which lost Steven Stamkos on Monday. The all-star forward and league-leading scorer broke his right tibia in the Lightning’s 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins.
“It was obviously a tough loss whenever you lose a player like that,” said Bishop after Tuesday’s game. “This is a team sport and we’re going to move forward. The guys played great tonight. We could’ve easily won this game or we could’ve easily scored more goals.
“Carey Price played a great game but we hung in there until the end and a big goal by Fil in the shootout.”
Down 1-0 going into the third, and on the back of big saves by Price, Montreal found some momentum and some of that extra grit. They blocked 15 shots and scored once on 13 shots in the third period.
Briere was credited with the equalizer at 15:22 of the third when Max Pacioretty’s shot went off his thigh and in.
“After the first two periods, Michel (Therrien) told us to go to the net a lot more,” said Briere. “There were a lot of shots where there was nobody in front of the net.
“On my goal, that’s what I tried to do. I tried to go to the net. It was a good play by Pacioretty too to try to hit me like that.”
Briere was back in the Canadiens’ lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion on Oct. 19. The 36-year-old, who missed 10 games, played on a line with Michael Bournival and Rene Bourque.
“My performance got better as the game went on,” said Briere. “In the first, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous, a little disorganized. In the second, I was more comfortable. In the third, we got good scoring chances. I calmed down a little bit.”
Ryan Malone put Tampa Bay on the scoreboard at 5:00 of the first when he deflected an Eric Brewer shot from the point.
Malone, who was shoved by Canadiens defenceman Douglas Murray seconds before Brewer’s shot, deflected the puck while falling to the ice. The goal was his third of the season.
Montreal couldn’t take advantage of three power-play opportunities in the first period. They finished the game 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
The Habs, who were outshot 13-5 in the second, dodged a bullet late in the period when Radko Gudas beat Price with a shot from the point. The goal was disallowed when video replay suggested Tyler Johnson had obstructed Price on the play.
After Briere tied the game, Montreal took a minor penalty late in the period, and another early in overtime, but Tampa Bay couldn’t beat Price on the power play.
Valtteri Filppula scored the only goal in the shootout.
“We didn’t compete hard enough to get success for two periods,” said Therrien. “To be able to score some goals, you have to compete. This is not what we did, honestly. We created some momentum in the third because we had some urgency, but I’m not impressed.”
Tampa Bay was without leading goal-scorer Steven Stamkos, who broke his right leg after crashing into the net against the Bruins on Monday. Stamkos underwent surgery Tuesday afternoon and is expected to miss several months of play.
Rookie J.T. Brown, who was recalled from Syracuse (AHL) after Stamkos’ injury, recorded one shot in 14:37 of ice time. Brown played five NHL games with the Lightning in 2012.
Notes: The Canadiens have only won once in their last six games. They beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Sunday. a David Desharnais and George Parros were both healthy scratches. a Defender Alexei Emelin, who has yet to play this season, is expected to dress over the weekend. Emelin underwent knee surgery last May. a The Lightning are first in the Atlantic division. a Montreal heads to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets on Friday.