Islanders: The Price Was Right for Montreal
By Stan Fischler
February 9, 2012
Having reached the .500 mark in Philadelphia, the Islanders sparked the hope that they still might pull off a march to the playoffs.
The possibilities of New York getting over the 22-22-8
plateau caused even more palpations from Montauk to Moriches and that’s why the Thursday night encounter at the Coliseum with Montreal took on such meaning.
One man stood in the way of such positive hopes and that was Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. Riding his saves -- and Max Pacioretty’s hat-trick -- Montreal came away with a 4-2 victory
, sending the crowd home with a modicum of melancholy mostly because of a late Islanders two-goal rally.
“We didn’t play the type of hockey that we wanted at the beginning,” said captain Mark Streit. “Then they scored a couple and it was hard for us to get back.”
The stories of the game were Price’s goaltending and Pacioretty’s sharpshooting and the Isles inability to exploit home ice.
“What disappoints me,” said coach Jack Capuano, “is that we’re not taking advantage of our games at home. We’ve got two more coming up [Los Angeles and Florida] and we’ve got to take them.”
Cappy said he could tell early on that Price would be difficult to beat. And let’s not forget that even Scott Gomez flashed the red light for the first time this season.
Unfortunately, the home club displayed weaknesses that have haunted them all year.
Evgeni Nabokov relinquished a goal on Montreal’s first shot, a mere 83 seconds into the game and another midway through the second period.
The deflating first Canadiens goal developed when Pacioretty stole the puck from defenseman Milan Jurcina.
Just returned from an injury, Jurcina was a step behind the play as the Connecticut-born Montrealer beat Nabokov from the top of the right circle.
From that point on, New York played the visitors on even terms and the game remained scoreless through the first twenty minutes courtesy of two scintillating saves by Price, who robbed Kyle Okposo with a glove save from five feet out.
Price again was spectacular at the start of the second period during an Islanders power play, stopping Matt Moulson’s shot from the top of the crease and Frans Nielsen’s deflection from Moulson.
“Price made a bunch of very good saves on our power play,” said PA Parenteau. “They played a good road game. Give them credit.”
Pacioretty again displayed maximum effort, putting the Habs up 2-0 in the middle period. The play started when David Desharnais skimmed a perfect pass to Slapsie Maxie, who found air in Nabokov’s five-hole at 9:30.
Trailing by two entering the third period, the Isles had hoped to generate more chances than they enjoyed over the first two frames but it was not to be until it was too little, too late.
Exploiting a penalty to John Tavares, Gomez beat Nabokov at 9:50 with a slapper from the top of the right circle.
Moulson finally put the Islanders on the board at 17:19 after Lars Eller was penalized for high-sticking, batting the puck out of mid-air and over Price’s right shoulder. Almost immediately thereafter, Streit blasted a shot from the top of the slot through Price’s five-hole at 18:07.
Only one behind, the home club simply couldn’t muster enough pressure and the game ended with Pacioretty scoring an empty-netter in the final second.
“A loss is a loss,” explained defenseman Andrew MacDonald, “it was nice to see us fight back but it’s still disappointing.”
With Los Angeles arriving on Saturday for a matinee at (12:30 p.m. on MSG+) followed by Florida on Sunday (2:30 p.m. on MSG+) Capuano must deduce how to work his team’s way out of its scoreless skid.
At this point in homestretch time, it behooves Cappy’s skaters to take three out of a possible four points to regenerate momentum.
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