The Habs pulled off the sweep over the New York Islanders with a solid finish in the third period at Centre Bell Sunday night. Their 4-2 victory gave them a sweep of the series and moved them back into first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens tried to make it two straight and a series sweep against the Islanders after having a heck of fight playing at Barclay’s arena for the first time. Though they outscored them 5-3, Montreal had a lot of issues on depth in the defensive zone. The Habs got back Carey Price the other night and with the game at home, he would not let his team nor the fans down.
Montreal and New York had a tug of war over the puck but managed to get some good shots on their opposing net minders. While Thomas Greiss did well holding off the Canadiens, Price was solid against New York stopping shots from Frans Nielsen and the Isles second line. Near the midway of the period, Montreal gained an opening power play where they were fighting against a strong PK.
They were stopped from scoring and would continue to have trouble against New York through the remaining minutes of the period. With just 1:19 left in the first, defenseman Travis Hamonic took a shot from the far end that rebounded near Kyle Okposo on Price’s left hand side. He took a scoring chance but missed as the puck moved to the center of the crease. It was there at Islanders captain John Tavares scored his tenth of the season a short wrister that counted despite the net being dislodged.
Montreal tried to even things up but they were beat by the horn as the puck crossed inside the New York a little too late. They still outshot the Isles 10-9 but the damage had been done with the visitors leading after one.
Montreal kept their offense alive into the second period fighting on the Islanders to get on the scoreboard. They had trouble getting a good run into the New York zone but found no clear line open to make a shot. They were outshooting their opponents and getting warm to even the game.
In the ninth minute, Dale Wiese and the Canadiens third line worked along with P.K. Subban who had delivered a drive into traffic getting to Wiese. Since his opportunity was blocked by Griess, the forward passed it in front to David Desharnais shooting it easily into the net for his seventh of the season.
Montreal made it 2-1 four minutes later on a rifled shot from Tomas Fleischmann who got it done while shorthanded on an Islanders power play unassisted. It was enough to give Montreal enough to withstand New York who fought tooth and nail to tie it back before the period could come to a close. They took a total of 10 shots on Price in the period but were unable to break one on him.
The third would be a last attempt for the Islanders to tie the game and they gained a chance five minutes in on Alexander Semin’s tripping call to Nick Leddy. They made good use of their power play but shooting one through Price was another story. They took three close shots on the Montreal net only to be ousted by the Canadiens solid PK unit.
Montreal sold another man advantage to the Islanders, which inevitably cost them dearly. A shot from Mikhail Grabovski got inside the short side where the Islanders had Montreal scrambling around their own net. A short opening for Anders Lee was enough to give him his fourth of the season shooting on the stick side of Price tying the game with eight minutes left.
After allowing a third consecutive power play, killing it off was their biggest priority if they wanted to survive. They did well knocking out the two-minute penalty and switched their concentration on offense. A chance came in the Islanders zone where Montreal won the puck on the faceoff. A brief pass play helped set up a one timer shot for Alex Galchenyuk who scored his third to give the Habs the lead back.
They scored it with 3:29 left in regulation that had New York being forced into a corner. They took a bad penalty with 90 seconds left with too many men on the ice that had them playing 5 on 4 for the rest of the game. The Islanders had to even things up but that had them pulling Griess from the net.
The Habs nearly had an empty net goal but it was waved off by officials to an off sides call by Wiese who took the shot. They would get one back in anyway with captain Max Pacioretty scoring it for his 11th on a wrister. It was enough to give them a two-goal lead with nine seconds left, securing the sweep.
Price’s two game winning streak was earned by stopping 21 shots on goal for a .913 save percentage. His eighth victory in ten starts puts him in a good chance to finish with wins to end the month of November. Montreal gets the next two days off before getting back to action taking on the New York Rangers in the Big Apple.