UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Nov. 17, 2011) – Scoreless after one period of play on Thursday, the New York Islanders powered a four-goal second period, and hung on over the final 20 minutes to beat the Montreal Canadiens by a result of 4-3 in an Eastern Conference contest at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The Isles, who entered the game with a 1-6-3 ledger in their last 10, improved to 5-8-3 on the year. Meanwhile, the Habs have now dropped two of their last three, and slipped to a record of 8-8-3 overall.
Following a slow first five minutes to start up the game, which included a pipe, and a missed net, John Tavares had a breakaway chance with 13:55 left. On a breakaway streaking down the left wing, Tavares looked for the short side against Montreal goalie Peter Budaj, but the netminder hugged the post, and made the save. Just a minute later, Steve Staios went to the box for tripping, putting the Canadiens on the power play. Three different players registered chances for the Habs, with a pair being saved, and the other striking the post.
During the first chance of the extra-man opportunity, Isles’ goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped the shot in his groin area, taking him out of the match, and subsequently replaced by Rick DiPietro. Just prior to the end of the period, Marty Reasoner and Frans Nielsen tried to put New York on the scoreboard. Reasoner’s one-timer was knocked down by Budaj, who shifted to his left to make the save. Budaj came into the game with a 1-1 mark in addition to a 1.48 GAA. Seconds later, Nielsen fanned on a near open net, leaving it scoreless at intermission.
Early into the second period, it didn’t take the hosts long to get on the board, thanks to a mistake by Budaj. He attempted to play the puck out from behind the net, which was intercepted by P.A. Parenteau, and put into the unguarded goal for a 1-0 advantage. Just over two minutes later, New York added another score to double its advantage. This time, it was Jay Pandolfo, who recorded his first-ever goal as an Islander, on a one-timer. The pass came from Josh Bailey, who was fed by Matt Martin, after clearing the puck out to center ice.
“It feels good to get the goal, as well as the win,” stated Pandolfo. “To earn the win tonight was important. We have to find a way to keep playing well. If we stay the course, we will get more wins.”
For New York, which scored those two tallies on its first two attempts of the period, kept looking to add up the markers, as ensuing Moulson and Brian Rolston one-timers were saved by Budaj. That didn’t stop Isles captain Mark Streit, as he put a loose puck home off a broken play with 10:52 to go to extend the cushion to 3-0. The goal was also his first since October 22 in a 4-2 loss at Florida. Matt Martin had an assist on the play.
Montreal needed something late to try and get back in the game. Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole helped out the Habs, not just once, but twice. With 5:08 left, a Mike Mottau miscue in the defensive zone became a chance, as Lars Eller dished off a cross-ice pass to Pacioretty, who struck for the Canadiens’ first tally. Two-plus minutes after that marker, Erik Cole put back a rebound to cut the deficit to one. But, the Moulson-John Tavares came alive, as Moulson found the far side 37 seconds later to re-capture the two-goal lead going into the break.
“I was trying to pass it to Grabby (Grabner), but got a fortunate bounce,” said Moulson. In regards to the win, he stated: “We sustained some good pressure on them. This is the kind of effort we need night after night.”
During the third stanza, it was a tumultuous start, as both squads couldn’t muster many chances through the period’s first 10 minutes. With that said, Michael Grabner went to the sin bin with 9:11 left for tripping. The Habs had two key chances, but could not convert. Michael Cammalleri missed on an open net, while P.K. Subban’s shot from the circle was robbed by the glove of DiPietro. Minutes later, after a Staios penalty, Cammalleri made up for his missed opportunity, as he skated around the defense to find Brian Gionta for a tap-in, making it 4-3.
Montreal did not let up off the gas pedal from there. It sustained a strong shift in the New York zone for over a minute, leaving the Isles tired, and the Canadiens in the hopes of tying it up. But, a block by rookie first-round pick from 2010 Nino Niederreiter made a “left skate save, and a beauty,” as stated by DiPietro, and cleared the puck out, eventually leading to a 4-3 Isles win. “Nino constantly works hard,” said Head Coach Jack Capuano.
Capuano also discussed: “It was interesting at the end. We battled, and played good hockey. I was a little concerned on how we were going to play, but the bottom line is that we won.”
Capuano and the Islanders are back to the ice on Saturday (Nov. 19) when they finish up their three-game homestand against the Boston Bruins. The puck drops at 7 p.m. It will also be Ed Westfall Night, as the Isles recognize their first-ever captain, as part of their 40th Anniversary celebration.