The New York Islanders had their four-game winning streak snapped Tuesday, as they fell 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at Nassau Coliseum.
Kyle Okposo gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the first period, but after dominating the opening 20 minutes, the Islanders gave up three unanswered goals in the final 40.
“I thought we ran out of gas,” Okposo said. “We looked like a tired team tonight. We didn’t have that same jump in the offensive zone we usually do.”
That was true of the second and third periods, but not the first. The Islanders came out swinging, outshooting the Canadiens 13-3 en route to a 1-0 lead. Okposo finished off a two-on-one with Tavares at 7:45, one-timing a feed from the captain, who outwaited a falling Sergei Gonchar before dishing the puck.
Okposo’s goal capped off an 11-0 shot advantage for the Islanders, who held the Canadiens without a chance on net until the 14-minute mark of the period.
The game shifted in the second period, as the Canadiens scored twice, taking a 2-1 lead. Andrei Markov tied the score with a one-timer from the point at 6:10, while Brendan Gallagher scored the eventual winner – sliding a rebound underneath Chad Johnson – five minutes later. Johnson started in place of Jaroslav Halak, who was given a night off by the Islanders coaches; Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie Kevin Poulin served as Johnson’s backup.
“We just came out a little bit flat, they had a push there and capitalized on some goals,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t really our game today. It’s frustrating. We wanted to go out on a good note, but it didn’t happen today.”
The Islanders peppered Carey Price with 15 shots in the third period, but many shots came from the perimeter and were controlled by the Canadiens netminder. David Desharnais’ goal with 1:11 to play sealed the win for the visitors.
“It’s disappointing to end a good stretch,” Tavares said. “We didn’t have that extra gear that we usually do. We really didn’t generate a whole lot of great chances. We didn’t seem to get those second and third opportunities.”
Defensively, the Islanders held the Atlantic-leading Canadiens to 21 shots and killed off two penalties. Overall, the Islanders outshot the Canadiens 38-21, their fourth straight game recording 32 shots or more.
“We still outshot them pretty bad and we didn’t give them much,” Okposo said. “They had some zone time, but we didn’t give up a whole lot of shots and I feel like we outplayed them most of the game.”
The Islanders enter the Christmas break with a 23-11-0 record in second place in the Metropolitan Division. They re-take the ice Saturday night in Buffalo, when they face the Sabres for the first time this season. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.