Habs look red, blue and green

The Flames celebrates a goal against Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (back) at the Bell Centre in...

The Flames celebrates a goal against Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (back) at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., Oct. 13, 2011. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:52 AM ET

MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens 2011-12 home opener should have been brought to you by BlackBerry.

The Canadiens had as much trouble moving the puck around their zone as the ubiquitous hand-held devices did moving e-mail over the last few days.

In both cases, when something that you take for granted suddenly isn’t there, a mild sense of panic rises.

It was one of those nights were Canadiens coach Jacques Martin would have liked to have been able to take the battery out of his club and reboot.

The Habs were awful against the Calgary Flames at the Bell Centre Thursday night in their 4-1 loss as the Flames won for the first time in three games.

Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will have to wait until at least Saturday to get another shot at the 100th win of his young career as he was left time and again to cover up for his teammates' mistakes.

The list of Canadiens who played decently Thursday night was, well, blank. Maybe Lars Eller, who was playing his first game of the season and got a battlefield promotion from the fourth line, had an OK game.

The Canadiens looked good when Andrei Kostitsyn buried a rebound off the backboards of a Max Pacioretty shot to gain a 1-0 lead before the game was two minutes old.

Who knew that would be Montreal's highlight?

Montreal captain Brian Gionta took a couple of stick penalties in the first period, the first a slashing call in that critical time right after the Flames had scored to tie it 1-1 seven minutes into the game. That penalty kept the Habs on their heels. No sooner was he out of the box before he was sent right back in for highsticking.

Calgary’s Niklas Hagman scored on that power play to make it 2-1.

“We started the way we wanted to and then got into penalty trouble,” said Gionta, “then we started pressing and doing things by ourselves.”

“We tried to score three goals on one shot,” was the way Habs forward Mathieu Darche put it, “which usually doesn’t happen.”

The Canadiens are a decent team and should be there for a playoff spot again come April, but like most of the second-tier teams in the NHL, they can’t overcome too many dents to the depth chart.

Their blue line was as green Thursday night as the faces of many Habs fans. With injuries to number one defenceman Andrei Markov, veteran Jaroslav Spacek and depth acquistion Chris Campoli, the Canadiens had to dress rookies Raphael Diaz and Alexei Emelin, and move Yannick Weber, who had been playing forward, back to the blueline.

Bad enough, but then when you expect a guy like P.K. Subban, who got one of the biggest cheers in the pre-game introductions, to pick up the slack, he turned in one of his worst games in recent memory.

Subban pretty much put on display all the shortcomings of his game, making risky plays that resulted in at least four glaring turnovers and got running around his own zone. It was one of those nights were the wheels were turning crazily and nothing good was getting done.

“When you’re not playing as a team,” said veteran Habs defenceman Hal Gill, “it’s hard for anyone to click.”

So, now the Canadiens are 1-2 and will have to regroup for Saturday when the surprising Colorado Avalanche visit.

Subban’s night pretty much summed up how things went for the Habs.

In the third, he circled the Montreal net with Flames captain Jarome Iginla on his back. Iginla looked like he got a hand on him and Subban’s feet went flying out and he landed on his rump, looking pleadingly at the referee.

He didn’t get the call.

It was that kind of night.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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