NEWARK, N.J. — After making only one minor deal on NHL trade-deadline day — acquiring Jordan Weal from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Michael Chaput — Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said he was going to deliver a message to his players before they faced the New Jersey Devils on Monday night at the Prudential Center.“It would be something like: ‘I believe in you guys. You’ve done a lot. You kind of put the critique behind you. Nobody believed in you, but you guys did … so just keep the same way,’ ” Bergevin said after meeting with the media and before addressing his players. “Keep having fun, play and enjoy. Make a push and get in (the playoffs). That would be my message to them.”Maybe they weren’t listening.
New Jersey Devils’ Nathan Bastian scores his first career goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Newark, N.J.
Julio Cortez /
Playing against a Devils team that was 18 points behind them in the standings and already out of the playoff race, the Canadiens lost 2-1. The Devils got goals from Nathan Bastian (his first in the NHL) and Kurtis Gabriel, while Paul Byron scored a short-handed goal for the Canadiens.The Canadiens remain in the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but are only one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, who both hold a game in hand.The Canadiens’ Andrew Shaw knew it wouldn’t be an easy game against the Devils.“Teams like this can be very dangerous, too,” Shaw said after the morning skate. “They’re not playing for anything. They’re just going to play for the fun of it. So we need to dig deep, find that extra little edge and go out there and compete.”They didn’t, and this is a game that could haunt the Canadiens if they miss the playoffs. A loss Tuesday to the Red Wings in Detroit (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio) — another team out of the playoff race — could really cause damage.The Canadiens outshot the Devils 35-22, but could only beat Cory Schneider once. The Devils goalie came into the game with a 3-8-2 record, a 3.43 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage.Artturi Lehkonen had a couple of good scoring chances in the first period, but was stopped by Schneider on a short-handed breakaway and then missed the net from the slot in the final minute. Jonathan Drouin had a good chance in the second period, but fanned on the shot.Lehkonen has now gone 25 games without a goal, while Drouin is pointless in his last seven games. The power play also struggled again, going 0-for-4, and it was a tough night for the No. 1 defence pair of Shea Weber and Victor Mete, who finished minus-1 and minus-2 respectively.When asked after the morning skate what the Canadiens needed to do to bounce back from Saturday’s loss — in which they blew a 3-0 lead — and beat the Devils, Shaw said: “I think we need to come out and have another big start and finish a full 60 is what we need to do.”That didn’t happen — much to Bergevin’s email@example.com/StuCowan1Related