After finally winning shootout game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, Montreal traveled to Long Island looking to extend their win streak. The New York Islanders on the other hand were looking to end that streak as they wanted to stay ahead of the Habs in the standings.
Max Pacioretty wasted no time in opening the scoring when he beat Evgeni Nabokov top corner with a seeing eye shot at the 1:23 mark. The quick goal caused the Islanders to respond as they went straight to the attack on the following shift. Carey Price shun during this sequence stopping a flurry of shots with his best on Kyle Okposo from in close.
The game slowed down a bit after the Isles failed to score as we witnessed lots of neutral zone play and many shots coming from the outside. Montreal picked it up during the last few minutes of the period but their attack ended when David Desharnais got a tripping call in the offensive zone with just six seconds to play.
The Islander took advantage of the fresh ice early in the second as they had almost a full two minutes of power play time to work with. Price was brilliant during this attack as he made multiple quality saves keeping his team ahead by a goal. Price stopped a couple more chances after the kill allowing his team to respond.
The Habs got another good shift from Louis Leblanc moments later when he forced Nabokov to make back to back saves on him. Mathieu Darche received a mini breakaway seconds later creating a nice rebound but none of his teammates followed the play properly to cash in.
Pacioretty made the missed opportunity a non-issue on the very next shift when he blasted a one timer for his second goal of the night. What made the goal especially impressive was the fact that Patches had three players on top of him and he still managed to get his shot off.
Down by two the Islanders tried to respond as they started to crash Price’s net. Price made the initial saves and smothered the puck in the crease on multiple occasions during this attack. The returning Raphael Diaz also got in on the action as he bailed out his goaltender by doing a nice job of clearing the front of his net.
The two teams continued to exchange chances for the remainder of the period and this pattern continued early in the third period as well. After going back and forth John Tavares got called for interference at the 8:43 mark. This put the Habs on the power play, something that makes most fans nervous now days.
The Habs actually got a power play goal on this opportunity and it came from the struggling Scott Gomez. Gomez benefited from a blocked Diaz shot that landed on his stick before he riffled it past Nabokov. This ended the yearlong scoring drought of Gomez and the smile on his face indicated that he was glad to have put it behind him. This leads us to a new question; when will he get his next goal?
Things were going well for the Canadiens until Lars Eller took a high sticking penalty in the offensive zone at the 16:22 mark. The Habs were once again doing a nice job of killing the power play and then out of nowhere the puck popped up in the air causing many players to lose sight of it.
Matt Moulson was able to track it however and he then proceeded to bat it out of the air to beating Price in the process. The goal was reviewed to make sure that it was not hit above the crossbar and it was quickly determined that it was not allowing the goal to count.
Less than a minute later the Islanders struck again with Nabokov on the bench for an extra attacker. The Habs were caught completely out of position on this attack allowing Mark Streit to score with all kinds of traffic in front of Price. The Habs looked bad at this point as within a minute or so we went from wondering if price was going to get the shutout to wondering if he was going to get the win.
Montreal settled down after the two quick goals and managed stave off the Isles last minute push clearing the puck out of the zone. This is when Pacioretty got a hold of the loose puck and shot it into the empty net with less than a second left on the clock. This gave Patches a hat-trick for the night but more importantly it gave the Habs their third win in a row.
The win has vaulted Montreal back into eleventh position in the East nine points behind eight placed Toronto. The Maple Leafs will be the Habs next opponent and if the Habs win that game in regulation they would only be seven points out of a playoff spot, if they lose they will be right back to where they were.
HiD Three Stars
- Max Pacioretty
- Carey Price
- Scott Gomez
HiD Turning Point
Gomez’ power play goal turned out to be the winning goal.