Evgeni Nabokov picked up the Islanders’ first-ever shutout in Montreal, as the rookie-laden Isles blanked the Canadiens 2-0 Thursday night at Bell Centre.
Nabokov made 19 saves and added an assist, while Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson scored a pair of power-play goals late in the second period propelling the Islanders to the win. The Islanders – icing 10 rookies – dictated the pace of play, outshooting, outhitting and outhustling the Canadiens.
“If you look at successful teams, they don’t do much in the defensive zone, it’s get it in, get it out and simple plays,” Nabokov said. “That’s exactly what we did today.”
The Islanders attempted 71 shots on goal, compared to 46 by the Canadiens and officially outshot them 30-19. The shot advantage didn’t translate into scoring until late in the second period, when Strome and Nelson scored 4:35 apart on two separate power plays.
Strome opened the scoring at the tail end of Douglas Murray’s major penalty, ripping a slap shot over the shoulder of Carey Price. The puck hit the camera inside of the net and shot back out, but was called a goal after a brief review.
“I think the best way to impress a coaching staff and a general manager is to win games,” Strome said. “I think if we play energetic and upbeat we’re going to give ourselves a chance no matter who is playing.”
Strome’s snipe was followed up in the final minute of the second period, as Nelson drove to the outside and sent a half slap shot, high-stick side past Price.
Strome played on a line Nelson in place of the injured Cal Clutterbuck, who missed Thursday’s contest with an upper-body injury. Johan Sundstrom filled Clutterbuck’s roster spot, but Sundstrom left the game with an injury after being hit by Murray in the second period.
The win was the Islanders 16th in their last 24 road games, as well as their sixth win in their last 10 games overall (6-2-2).
“I don’t think too many people would give us a chance with the lineup we have here tonight,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “When we execute things go well for us.”
The Islanders play out their 18th and final back-to-back set of the season Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Josh Bailey set a new career-high in points (36) with the secondary assist on Strome’s goal… Travis Hamonic led the Islanders with 26:41 TOI… The Islanders outhit the Canadiens 24-8… Mike Halmo led the Islanders with six hits… Brock Nelson led the Islanders with five shots.