The Canadiens scored three unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders at Long Island on Thursday night. Brian Gionta scored what proved to be the game winner 48 seconds into the period. P.K. Subban’s second goal of the game followed thirty-three seconds later by Brendan Gallagher’s 9th goal of the season to clinch it. Michael Ryder opened the game’s scoring on a power play in the first period, but John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead before the Canadiens scored the last four goals of the game. The Canadiens outshot the Islanders 29-27. The win leaves the Canadiens one point behind the Penguins for the Eastern Conference lead. The Canadiens have a game in hand. The Bruins edged Ottawa 2-1 and remain two points behind the Habs still with a game in hand.
The Canadiens return home to play Buffalo Saturday night.
Adding It Up –
Early Jump – Five minutes into the game it was clear Michael Ryder was on his game. His aggressiveness led to the opening goal of the game on a power play on a give and take from Andrei Markov led to a low shot with Gionta screening. Ryder finished the game five shots on goal. He also had a big uncredited hand in the game-winning goal in the third period.
End to End – Twelve minutes into the period the Canadiens broke loose on a 3-on-1 that failed to produce a shot and the Islanders came back the other way on a 2-on-1 started by Matt Moulson. Alexei Emelin got back to even things up but Tavares kept the puck and put it through Price’s five hole. Tavares admitted later that he fanned on the shot, looking to go high on Price. 1-1 end of the first period.
Getting Behind – At 6:58 of the second period the Eller line found itself in trouble in their own end leading to a scramble in front of Price. Visnovsky found a rebound and the Islanders had a 2-1 lead.
The Shakeup -Something bothered Michel Therrien. More than one thing actually. He benched P.K. Subban the first half of the second period and with the Canadiens trailing 2-1 eight minutes into the period, Therrien juggled every line but Plekanec’s . Desharnais played Dumont and Galchenyuk and one point, with Pacioretty and Armstrrong and Pacioretty and Gionta. In the third period, things Therrien brought things back to normalcy again.
Man Advantage – The Canadiens scored on the first shot of their first power play of the game. On their second power play it took two shots. With Ryder parked in front and Markov cutting through, P.K. Subban’s one-timer off a Plekanec pass found it’s way into the net to tie the game. Two power play goals on three shots. Two for four on the night. Over the last nine games the Canadiens have 10 power play goals in forty opportunities.
Under the Gun – With the game tied at two, Carey Price was forced to make six saves in succession during a penalty to Gabriel Dumont. Matt Moulson had three of them from right off the doorstop. Visnovsky had two and Tavares the other. Over the next 25 minutes Price faced only four more as the Canadiens played shutdown hockey.
The Money Period – Into the third period where the Islanders have had a dreadful time this season, giving up a league leading 42 goals. Make that 45. The Canadiens took over, scoring three unanswered while allowing New York only three shots through the first seventeen minutes.
The Game Winner – Ryder forced a turnover at centre ice by Brad Boyes and Desharnais gave it to Gionta for his 10th goal 48 seconds into the period.
No Luck At All – Midway through the period P.K. Subban attempted to get the puck to Gallagher in front and Mark Streit deflected it into his own net. Subban’s second of the night. Thirty-three seconds later Pacioretty sent Gallagher in alone. His backhand came off the far post and back towards goaltender Kevin Poulin who kicked it back into his own net. 5-2 and turn out the lights.
On The Scoresheet – The best line on the night was Plekanec/Gionta/Ryder with 2 goals, 4 points and nine shots on goal. ….The Canadiens won the special teams battle 2-0. The Islanders’ power play was 0-for-4. ….The Canadiens have 28 power play goals sharing the league lead with Pittsburgh.…..Four Canadiens had two-point nights; Subban with two goals; Pacioretty, Desharnais and Plekanec with two assists. The Canadiens are now 15-1-2 in games outside the Northeast division. ….They have earned at least a point in ten of their last eleven games and on the road they are 11-2-2.
Quibbling on a Good Night –
…..P.K. Subban was the game’s best player. Two goals on five shots. People are starting to mention Norris Trophy candidacy. But there were also those two first period giveaways the caused grief for Carey Price and that too many men penalty was his fault. Those reasons, a couple of others I’m sure, Subban sat on the bench the first half of the second period. But any criticism is beginning to fall on deaf ears. Even with his six game holdout Subban is third in points among defencemen with 22 and his nine goals leads them all.
….The Canadiens were brutal around their own bench. Emelin and Subban screwed up a line change in the first minute of the second period and the Canadiens picked up a too-many-men penalty. The referees missed another one that was even worse in the third period with the Canadiens leading 3-2.
Ahead – Saturday night at the Bell Centre against Buffalo and then those back to back games with Pittsburgh and Boston Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.