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Coach gets a dose of humility against the lowly Sabres. Plus: Catching up with Claude Julien.

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This is a learning season for the young Canadiens, and Tuesday’s lesson was that no matter how bad the opposition, you can’t fall behind 3-0 before the game is three minutes old.

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In his pre-game preparation, coach Martin St, Louis urged his players to come out strong and own the first 10 minutes. Instead, the Canadiens looked helpless against a Buffalo Sabres team that had lost eight games. It was a replay of Saturday’s game against Philadelphia, which saw the Flyers score twice in the first two minutes.

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The Canadiens rallied to win that game 5-4 in a shootout but there was no comeback Tuesday as the Sabres pushed until the end to post a 7-2 victory. It was their first win after eight consecutive losses.

St. Louis agreed that the Canadiens might be careless at the start.

“I feel like early on in the year the first period was really good, but now the first period is hurting us,” said St. Louis. “Sometimes when you play like that, it humbles you a little bit and you tighten things up and keep your guard up from the start.”

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St. Louis said there was no time to break down the loss because the Canadiens have to concentrate on Wednesday’s game in Columbus (7 p.m., TSN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

“Are there a couple of things we can go over? Maybe,” St. Louis said. “But we need to get ready for tomorrow. This was one of those games that sometimes happen.”

Cole Caufield, who scored his 12th goal of the season, said the Canadiens had to do a better job of helping goaltender Jake Allen, who gave up seven goals on 38 shots. Allen showed his frustration after Jeff Skinner scored on a power play in the third period. The usually composed goaltender smashed his stick against a post.

We gotta help him out there,” said Caufield. “He’s been a wall for us all season and tonight it got away from us. We’ll try to bounce back tomorrow.”

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Craig Anderson, the 41-year-old veteran, made 29 saves, including 11 on the power play. The Canadiens had six opportunities with the extra man but came up empty.

Mike Matheson made his second appearance after missing the first 17 games of the season with an abdominal injury. He was minus-3 and was also on the ice for one of the Sabres’ two power-play goals.

Skinner led the Sabres with two goals and three assists and he continues to enjoy success against  Montreal. He has 40 points (23 goals and 17 assists) in 37 games. It is also the seventh multiple-point game against the Canadiens in 12 games since joining the Sabres.

Montreal has become a prime hunting ground for teams looking for defencemen. There were 20 scouts at Tuesday’s game including former Canadiens head coach Claude Julien, who is scouting for the St. Louis Blues.

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“There’s no stress,” said Julien, who was fired midway though the 2020-21 season and replaced by Dominique Ducharme. Julien said he was happy to take a break from coaching but indicated that he would be interested in getting behind the bench if the right situation arises.

The Canadiens are on the road for their next two games. They play the Blue Jackets Wednesday and then head to Chicago to play the Blackhawks Friday in a Thanksgiving weekend afternoon game with a 2 p.m. Eastern start.

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

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    In the Habs’ Room: ‘The first period is hurting us,’ St. Louis says

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