The New York Islanders five-game point streak ended Thursday night after a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders were down 3-0 with 2:41 left, but made things interesting in the final minutes. Goals by Matt Moulson and Mark Streit 48 seconds apart cut the lead to 3-2. A near-miss by PA Parenteau with less than 10 seconds left nearly tied the score. Max Pacioretty scored the empty-netter to seal the win and complete the hat-trick.
“I thought we played a little bit slow in the first period,” Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t move the puck north as quickly as we could to establish a forecheck. Give them credit they played a good game, their goalie played a good game.”
Pacioretty scored a goal in each period. He and goaltender Carey Price frustrated the Islanders, both turning in solid outings in what was an important game for both teams.
“We don’t have much to play with here,” PA Parenteau said. “Every time you lose a game it’s going to hurt even more this time of the year.”
Pacioretty started the night by scoring his 20th goal of the season at 1:23 of the first period, beating Evgeni Nabokov low stick-side on the Canadiens first shot of the game.
“We gave up a goal on the first shot again,” Parenteau said. “That means we weren’t ready.”
Despite out-chancing the Canadiens in the first half of the game Price kept the Islanders at bay. Midway through the second, the Isles found themselves down by two as Pacioretty held the hot hand, hammering home a David Desharnais pass.
Scott Gomez scored his first goal of the season to put the Canadiens up by three. He scored a one-timer short side on Montreal’s only power play, which held up as the eventual game-winner.
Matt Moulson broke Price’s shutout with 2:41 remaining, batting a puck out of the air on the power play. With an assist on the goal, John Tavares recorded his 100th career assist. The power play marker sparked the Isles as less than a minute later Mark Streit pulled the Islanders within one.
“Coming back at the end to score two goals is good,” Streit said. “But at the end of the day it’s the win that counts. They [the Canadiens] were vulnerable and we didn’t take advantage of that.”
The game was critical for both teams trying to get into the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference. Montreal improves to 22-24-9 while the Islanders drop to 22-23-8. The Isles have a chance to earn the points back with two games this weekend against the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
Before Saturday’s contest against LA, the Islanders will induct defenseman Kenny Jonsson into the Islanders Hall of Fame. Puck drop is at 1 p.m.