In order to make a successful playoff push the New York Islanders (22-23-8) need to win at home. That was not the case on Thursday, as the guys fell by a final of 4-2 to the Montreal Canadiens (22-24-9). A vital two points awarded to Montreal, due to a slow start and the play of Max Pacioretty and Carey Price.
Pacioretty recorded the hat trick, while Price made 31 saves to help the Habs separate themselves from the Isles in the Eastern Conference. New York now drops to a 5-20-3 record when allowing the game’s first goal.
“We got off to a slow start and we didn’t play the game we wanted too,” said Isles captain Mark Streit after the game. “They (Montreal) are a good team, they are fast, and we got to forecheck hard. They scored a couple and we had a hard time getting one back.”
Streit continued to say, “We had a good opportunity on that power play to start the second period, but we didn’t, and it was just a disappointing effort on our part.”
Starting a three-game, four-day homestand, the Islanders had plenty of opportunities, but could not cash in on Price-who made some sensational saves early. Winger Kyle Okposo had some of the best chances early in the first period, with one such opportunity denied by the quick glove of Price.
“After Price made that save on Kyle in the first, I knew we were going to have to get second and third opportunities against them (Montreal),” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano after the game. “We made some key saves, especially on the power play in the second period. We had some good opportunities offensively-we got some pucks to the net late, but time just ran out on us.”
Montreal, meanwhile, cashed in on their first opportunity of the game, when Max Pacioretty (20) wristed-in the 1-0 lead, at the 1:23 mark in the first. New York had another golden opportunity before the end of the first, as with 5.7 remaining the team went on the extra-man advantage, thanks to the first Canadiens penalty in the game.
With 1:55 of power play time to start the second, the Islanders had some beautiful tic-tac-toe passing to create offensive opportunities in the frame. Pacioretty (21) struck for the second time on a slap shot at the 9:30 mark.
On the frustration on allowing the other team to score first, winger P.A. Parenteau had this to say, “It is really frustrating obviously, and we gave up a goal on the first shot again, which meant that we weren’t ready. I think it was like the 10th time this year already that we did that, and it hurts us-it takes a lot of momentum away from us. It is tough when it happens, but like I said we got to move on.”
New York’s frustration and puzzlement with Carey Price continued with 6:57 to go in the second, when young-winger Nino Niederreiter was denied by the pads of the Habs keeper.
“Nino is a guy who is going to be a really good player for us,” Capuano said of the play of Niederreiter. “Right now he is still developing, and the more time he gets on the ice, the better player he will be for us.”
Montreal center Scott Gomez (1) snapped a long scoreless drought, when he netted in a tip-in with 10:10 to go in the third period, for the 3-0 lead. Gomez connected on the first power play opportunity in the game.
It was at the 17:19 mark in the third, when the Isles snapped Price’s shutout bid, as a power play goal by Matt Moulson (24) cut the Canadiens lead to 3-1. Moulson’s goal went to the review booth, due to the fact that it seemed that the Isles winger stick was too high-after the review the goal stood as the Isles were on the board.
Helping to set Moulson up on that goal was John Tavares (32) and Parenteau (37), with that assist Tavares now has 100 career helpers.
Life went back into the team after that first goal, as with 1:53 remaining Streit (4), connected on cannon of a shot, to make the game 4-2. With Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum rocking and thunderous ‘Let’s go Islanders’ chants-hope for a comeback was alive and well.
The missed opportunities earlier on in the game, came back to haunt the Isles, as time and Max Pacioretty (22) both struck for the 4-2 victory for the Canadiens.
The next two home games are vital ones for the Isles, as every point counts to catching-up ground in the Eastern Conference. It will be the battle of the brother-in-laws on Saturday as Matt Moulson takes on Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings.
New York will also be inducting defenseman Kenny Jonsson into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the game. The nine-year blueliner scored 25 points eight times in his time on the Island, while also being the eighth captain in franchise history. Jonsson also represented the Isles in the 1999 NHL All-Star game and was one of the catalysts of the 2001-02 playoff run.
The game between the Isles and Kings is set to air on the MSG Plus network with face-off slated for 1:00 p.m.
“We have to bounce back this weekend, and we need to win both games,” Parenteau said to reporters on the importance of the next two games at home. “There is not much to play with here, every time we lose a game it is going to hurt us even more this time of year.”
Originally seen on the Examiner.com site on February 9, 2012 and can be viewed by clicking on the link below: