Michel Therrien says the Canadiens are trying to get ready for the playoffs, but they’re not playing playoff hockey.

“We are trying to prepare ourselves for the playoffs and obviously we didn’t have a good night, and we’re going to have to tighten up our defensive game,” said Therrien. “We can’t give up six goals, five goals like we’ve been doing the last three games. We have to get back to basics.

“Defensively, there was too much room between the forwards and the defencemen,” added Therrien. “We don’t play as a unit of five and that makes us an easy team to play against.”

Therrien continued to play a game of musical goaltenders as he lifted his starting goaltender for the third consecutive game. But he said that it wasn’t a case of being unhappy with Peter Budaj, whose bid for an eighth consecutive win ended when he gave up three goals on nine shots in the first period.

“I was trying to change the momentum,” said Therrien, who paused before he added: “It didn’t work.”

Therrien appealed to his veterans to turn things around and said: “We’re facing a difficult time and it’s time to show we’re solid as a group. I thought tonight we had good intention, but we gave up some early goals and lost confidence.”

“It’s frustrating,” said defenceman Josh Gorges. “When you’re under the gun like that and things go wrong, you start gripping the stick a little tighter and I was most guilty of that tonight. As tough as it is, you have to find a way to stay resilient and stay true to what works, stay true to the team and the system.”

Gorges, who was on the ice for the first four Pittsburgh goals, said it’s wrong to blame the goaltending.

“I wouldn’t blame the goalies at all, especially the last two games,” he said. “If you want to blame someone, blame me. I’ll take full responsibility for the way we’ve played the last little bit.

“When you get behind early, you’re not just playing the game, you’re fighting among yourselves,” added Gorges. “You’re fighting the whole mental battle.”