MONTREAL - Carey Price repeatedly smashing his stick on the crossbar in frustration perfectly summed up Montreal’s current struggles.
The Canadiens lost their sixth straight game in a mistake-filled 6-4 defeat to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Price broke his stick after New Jersey's fifth goal — Damon Severson's game winner in the third period.
"We know how good he is, it's not his fault," said Brendan Gallagher of Price. "That's on us. We make the mistakes. You can't give up these high-danger chances.
"Too many chances against. Until we correct it, we're going to continue having this feeling."
Montreal's current six-game winless streak (0-4-2) began Nov. 16 with an overtime loss to the Devils at Bell Centre. Claude Julien's men have conceded at least four goals in five of those six games.
Four of New Jersey's goals came off odd-man rushes or breakaways.
"They were aggressive, they were pinching," said Devils star forward Taylor Hall. "With their game lately, they were going to be a little overzealous to get in and pinch. If you can beat that fore-check, that pressure, there are going to be odd-man rushes."
The Canadiens (11-9-5) outshot the Devils 48-35 but the visitors had an answer for everything Montreal threw at them.
Gallagher made it 1-1 at 7:41 of the first by poking the puck between Mackenzie Blackwood's pads. Travis Zajac scored 36 seconds later by redirecting a bouncing puck past Price on a 2-on-1 with Nikita Gusev.
After Jesperi Kotkaniemi levelled the score 1:40 into the second — the young centre's first goal since Oct. 9 — Miles Wood made it 3-2 for New Jersey 1:36 later on a breakaway with Montreal caught changing.
Moments after Hall failed to score on a partial break, Joel Armia got the Canadiens level again with a wrist shot from the face-off dot, glove-side on Blackwood at 9:02.
But the Devils (9-11-4) were quick to respond again as Jesper Boqvist put Nico Hischier's rebound behind Price 1:26 later following a turnover in the neutral zone.
Severson made it 5-3 by beating Price far side, top corner on an odd-man rush at 8:21 of the third. That's when Price broke his stick on his net.
The Canadiens goalie gave up five goals on 34 shots. He also conceded 11 goals on 45 shots in his previous two starts — losses to the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
"If I'm being honest, I don't feel for Carey Price because he's the best goaltender in the world," said former teammate P.K. Subban. "Is he going to bounce back? I can guarantee you he will. But he can't be the best goaltender every night."
Artturi Lehkonen got one back for Montreal 16 seconds after Severson's goal but that's as close as the Canadiens would get. Blake Coleman added an empty-netter with 1:16 left on the clock, his second of the night.
New Jersey has beaten Montreal in seven straight contests.
"We almost got 50 shots on net, we scored four goals. In normal circumstances, we should be winning hockey games," said coach Julien. "Our play without the puck, breakdowns, picking up the wrong man, making the wrong decision, bad line changes, we need to fix that stuff.
"I'm frustrated as hell right now, I can tell you that much. I'm tired of losing."
Coleman scored the game's opening goal 7:19 into the first on a perfectly played 2-on-1 with Gusev, who had three assists for his first career multi-point game.
Subban played his former team for the seventh time. The Devils defenceman got into a brief altercation with Gallagher in the third period, trading punches after the whistle.
Notes: Montreal dropped to 6-6-2 at Bell Centre this year. … Blackwood stopped 44-of-48 shots for his eighth win of the year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2019.