MONTREAL 5, ISLANDERS 3
By Jason Lockhart
The Islanders lost their first game in regulation after heading into the third period with a lead. They dropped the opener of their four-game road trip, 5-3, to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, Tuesday night.
It was 3-2 Islanders after two periods, but goals by Guillaume Latendresse, Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec in the third put the game out of reach. David Aebischer picked up the win, stopping 24 of 27 shots.
Rick DiPietro left the game in the first period and did not return after his head collided with the leg of Steve Begin while diving for a puck near the Islanders blueline. He made eight saves before being replaced by Mike Dunham, who turned aside 27 shots. DiPietro will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
The Canadiens scored only one man-advantage goal, but were given eight opportunities, while the Islanders went 0-for-4 on the power play.
Alexei Yashin put the Islanders up 1-0 with a rocket of a slapshot, 9:35 into the first period. Miroslav Satan and Marc-Andre Bergeron earned the assists on Yashin's 14th goal of the season.
With less than five minutes to go in the opening period, DiPietro came out of his net and successfully poked the puck away from the on-rushing Begin whose right leg slammed into DiPietro's head.
Dunham took over in goal for the first time since he started on February 1st in a 5-2 victory over Atlanta. Less than two minutes after he entered the game, Dunham stood tall, stopping a barrage of shots during a Montreal power play.
The Islanders would add to their lead to open the second period when Ryan Smyth was awarded a penalty shot at 1:09. After jumping out of the penalty box, Smyth received a homerun pass from Bergeron and went in all alone before being tugged from behind by Sheldon Souray. On the ensuing penalty shot, Smyth slipped a backhander through the legs of Aebischer.
The Canadiens cut the lead to 2-1 on a great individual effort by Michael Ryder. The shifty forward jumped over a Brendan Witt hip check along the right wing boards and then toe-dragged the puck around Sean Hill before giving the puck over to Latendresse for an easy lay-in with 6:54 gone by in the second period. It was the first of two goals by Latendresse.
Montreal struck again on a 5-on-3 power play to tie the game at two. Ryder scored from the side of the net with 7:18 remaining in the second period.
Before the period was over, Smyth and Bergeron teamed up again to generate a score with 4:55 left. Smyth waited behind the Montreal net with the puck and found Bergeron busting to the net for a 3-2 Islanders lead.
The third period was all Montreal, who out shot the Islanders 12-6 in the final frame and 40-27 in the game.
Latendresse scored his second goal of the game with a wrist shot from the slot to tie the game at three at 8:39 of the third period.
Andrei Kostitsyn then found Higgins in front of the Islanders goal to give Montreal a 4-3 lead with 8:34 left in the third period.
Tomas Plekanec put the game out of reach with a late goal off a pass from Kostitsyn.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Guillaume Latendresse: Two goals
2. Chris Higgins: Tallied the game-winner
3. Andrei Kostitsyn: Three assists, all in the third period
4. Michael Ryder: A goal and an assist
5. Ryan Smyth: A goal and an assist in the losing effort.
Stat of the Game: The Islanders are now 24-1-4 when leading after two periods.
Slapshots: Ryan Smyth is 3-for-4 on penalty shots in his careerÂ¦Marc-Andre Bergeron has 12 points in ten games with the IslandersÂ¦Shawn Bates (sports hernia), Bruno Gervais (ankle) and Jeff Tambellini (healthy) were tonight's scratches.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - 6 Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli - 44 Freddy Meyer
3 Tom Poti - 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
94 Ryan Smyth - 27 Randy Robitaille - 55 Jason Blake
25 Viktor Kozlov - 79 Alexei Yashin - 81 Miroslav Satan
20 Richard Zednik - 10 Richard Park 45 Arron Asham
30 David Aebischer
49 Michael Leighton
44 Sheldon Souray 51 Francis Bouillonn
79 Andrei Markov - 8 Mike Komisarek
6 Janne Niinimaa - 26 Josh Gorges
73 Michael Ryder - 11 Saku Koivu - 84 Guillaume Latendresse
21 Chris Higgins - 35 Tomas Plekanec - 46 Andrei Kostitsyn
22 Steve Begin - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 25 Mathieu Dandenault
57 Garth Murray - 20 Mike Johnson - 32 Mark Streit
Photo Courtesy of the Montreal Canadiens