It's not the absence of goaltender Carey Price that has caused the Montreal Canadiens to lose their first three games of the season.
It's the absence of their offense.
The Canadiens have scored just once in each of their contests and are 0-for-11 on the power play entering Tuesday night's gameagainst the visiting San Jose Sharks.
Not exactly the way the Canadiens wanted to start a season after reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
The three-game skid, which includes a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers in the Habs' home opener Saturday, is their longest to open a season since they dropped five in a row in 1995-96.
"It's not just one thing," Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. "First, we have to be more dynamic offensively, like we were in the third period (Saturday). Second, we have to have more of a presence in front of the net. There were times in the second period when one of our players had the puck, but he had to wait for a teammate to go to the net."
Jonathan Drouin scored the lone goal for Montreal, which was playing in front of a capacity crowd at the Bell Centre for the first time since March 10, 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Drouin also scored in a 2-1 loss last Wednesday at Toronto in the season opener. The Canadiens followed that with a 5-1 defeat the next night in Buffalo.
"We're playing outside a little bit too much," Drouin said. "(Saturday) there were a lot of rebounds ... laying in the slot, laying around the net, and not a lot of guys to capitalize on those rebounds or get that dirty goal right now.
"I think that we have shots, but we need more bodies around the net."
Other than on the scoreboard, Drouin said he thought his team made improvements Saturday.
"In our neutral zone, they had to dump the puck and needed to chase it," he said. "There were no 2-on-1s like in Buffalo.
"It was better. We played the game that we wanted to play, but we gave up too many penalties. You can't give them too many penalties because they'll score on you."
Despite not being in the building while he's away from the team in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, Price was given a standing ovation when his name was announced before the home opener.
Like the Canadiens, the Sharks are missing one of their stars as forward Evander Kane has been designated as a non-roster player "pending completion of the NHL's investigation."
The league is looking into whether Kane used a fake COVID-19 vaccination card and also accusations of physical and sexual abuse raised by his estranged wife in a court filing last month.
Kane's absence seems to have sparked a youth movement in San Jose, which had five rookies in its lineup Saturday for a 4-3 victory against visiting Winnipeg in the Sharks' season opener.
Jasper Weatherby had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut as the Sharks rallied from an early two-goal deficit.
"You couldn't ask for a much better way to start the season. It was a team win," Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. "We tried to play to our identity as best we could. I think everybody knows there were some nerves there at the beginning, especially for some of the young guys."
--Field Level Media