The Canadiens blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens, looking for their sixth win in a row, dominated the first period, outshooting the Islanders 14-3 and taking a 2-0 lead. It was downhill from there. Matt Moulson scored two power play goals for the Islanders to key the comeback. Frans Nielsen tiedit midway through the third period and Thomas Hickey won it at 3:12 of overtime. Max Pacioretty scored twice for the Canadiens. Travis Moen got the other. Shots on goal favoured the Canadiens 33-25. The three stars were Hickey, Pacioretty and David Desharnais.
Breaking Out –In the first period the Canadiens’ goal was run the Islanders out the Bell Centre loading bay doors. John Tavares took a shot in the first fifteen seconds of the game and he took another on a power play with eleven seconds remaining in the first period. Between Tavares shots the Islanders had one, while the Canadiens were peppering Islander goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with 14.
Rewarded –The Canadiens broke out on top with a hard working goal. Travis Moen hustled in to force the Islanders defenceman to cough up the puck behind the net. Moen circled in front as Colby Armstrong fed him to give the Canadiens the 1-0 lead.
Power Play Awakens – With one in their previous 22 advantages, and none in their previous four games, the power play finally came through when Max Pacioretty buried a hard one-timer of a nice three-way play started by Subban and aided by Desharnais.
Momentum Breaker – Lars Eller got a slashing penalty late in the first and in the carryover thirty five seconds into the second period Matt Moulson deflected Mark Streit’s shot to make it 2-1.
Getting It Together – After scoring his season’s first goal from centre ice against Carolina on Monday, , Max Pacioretty has started to roll. Desharnais set him up from behind the net for his second goal of the game. Four goals and an assist his last three games and the Canadiens were in control.
Not So Fast – From the mid-point of the second period, the Bell Centre ice started to tilt the other way. Midway through the game the Canadiens were outshooting the Islanders 25-8 and on this occasion the shots on goal were a fair indication of the way the game was unfolding. Through the final thirty-three minutes including the overtime 17-8 and outscored them 3-0.
The Difference – Special Teams. The rule of thumb goes, win the battle of special teams-win the game. The Canadiens were 1-for-4 in over seven minutes of power play time. The Islanders, who have a very good power play by the way. With 2-for 4 in 3:28. The power play goals kept the Islanders in what was a lopsided game through two periods.
The Overtime –Tavares, who was the game’s best player, brought the puck into the Canadiens zone, fell but managed to hook the puck over to Michael Grabner who wheeled it on to Tomas Hickey for his first NHL goal. Survival –It could have been worse. The Canadiens got a point out the game. They still lead the Northeast Division, although Boston, two points back, has three games in hand.
The Good Things – Obviously Pacioretty with his six shots and two goals. But also Desharnais, who had his best night of the season. Still waiting for Erik Cole to get it going. Of his five shots on goal, Alex Galchenyuk produced another two good scoring chances. Alexei Emelin has picked up his game after that brief slump. Josh Gorges was solid. And Tomas Plekanec did his usual thing with the bonus that he won 68% of his faceoffs.
Bring on the Rangers!