MONTREAL — Claude Julien feels his Canadiens have simply not been "sharp" enough to start the season.
The Canadiens lost 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings in their home opener on Thursday night, Montreal’s third defeat in a week. The Habs were coming off a 5-4 overtime loss in Buffalo on Wednesday.
"We have to find that sharpness if we’re going to win some hockey games," said Julien. "Physically, we need a break. Mentally, we need to sharpen up. We’ll do a little bit of video tomorrow and see if we can’t sharpen the guys up a little bit.
"They (Detroit) forced errors and took advantage of them. We’re making a lot of mistakes and they’re costing us."
Montreal twice overcame one-goal deficits before Anthony Mantha‘s game-winner late in the second period. The Red Wings (3-1-0) snapped a nine-game losing streak against Montreal.
Falling behind and clawing back has been the story of the season so far for the Canadiens (1-1-2), who have trailed in each of their four games this year.
"We have to play with the lead," said Jonathan Drouin, who has a point in all four games. "We have to get the lead in the first, obviously at home too. It’s easy to play with the lead when you have your building behind you. So far the focus to get that lead has not been there."
Added Max Domi: "It’s tough when you get behind the 8-ball and trail in the third period. There’s a lot of character in this locker room but it’s hard to come back three games in a row."
The Canadiens struggled to clear their own crease for much of the night and it cost them on the game’s first goal.
Following a lengthy pre-game ceremony, Darren Helm quieted the Bell Centre crowd with his first of the season at 13:33 of the opening frame. After Carey Price misplayed the puck behind his net, Helm scored on a rebound to give Detroit the lead.
A faceoff win by Phillip Danault in the offensive zone led to Joel Armia’s 1-1 equalizer with 53 seconds left in the period. The Finnish winger has three goals in his last two games.
The Red Wings regained the lead 30 seconds later through Tyler Bertuzzi‘s third of the year on a nice feed from Dylan Larkin behind the red line.
Mantha and Bertuzzi have combined for 10 of Detroit’s 14 goals this season.
The teams traded power-play goals in the second period.
The Canadiens levelled the score at 4:34 when Jeff Petry’s shot bounced off the end boards, back over the net and into the crease for Domi to beat Jonathan Bernier.
With the score tied 2-2 in the second, 2013 first-round draft pick Mantha scored the winner on the power play at 15:38. Continuing his red-hot start to the season, the Longueuil, Que., native beat an unscreened Price top corner with a one-timer for his sixth of the season.
"Just my confidence right now," said Mantha, trying to explain his early-season success. "My linemates are feeding me properly and right now it’s going in so I just need to keep shooting."
Luke Glendening put the contest to bed with an empty-netter with 58 seconds to play.
Detroit had not won in regulation time in Montreal since 2007.
"Obviously they had our number," said Mantha, who is the grandson of Canadiens great Andre Pronovost. "We came out strong and Bernier played unreal in net. We’re happy about our performance."
Notes: Bernier made 33 saves on 35 shots while Price stopped 30-of-33 shots. â€¦ Wings defenceman Danny Dekeyser had two assists. â€¦ It was the first of a four-game homestand for the Canadiens. â€¦ Montreal defence pair Cale Fleur and Brett Kulak were healthy scratches.