The Islanders may have fallen to Montreal with a final tally of 5-3 on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t without a fight. They closed the gap to a one-goal margin on three occasions. Defenseman James Wisniewski received recognition on all three of the Islanders tallies, as he scored a power play goal and assisted on both of the others.
“I think the points that he (Wisniewski) got last year with Anaheim being on the second power play, I think that’s a pretty good indicator that he had a lot of potential,” Gordon said about the Islanders top defenseman. “He’s a guy that’s always going to be a shot threat from the blueline and you saw it tonight. He was able to get the puck to the net.”
With 11 points this season, Wisniewski ranks at the top of the League’s defensive scoring leaders, tying John-Michael Liles (Colorado) and surpassing Kris Letang (Pittsburgh). The defenseman also holds a League-best nine power play assists and 11 power play points.
Wisniewski tallied his lone goal of the game on the power play, taking a slap shot from the blueline that found its way through traffic with just 44 seconds left in the first period. The goal closed the gap with the Canadiens 2-1 after Montreal’s rookie forward P.K. Subban went to the box for roughing at 17:32.
Brian Gionta #21of the Montreal Canadiens chases after James Wisniewski #20 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game on October 27, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
Although the Islanders capitalized on their power play twice, it wasn’t enough to give them the lead over the Canadiens. Mattieu Darche notched Montreal’s first goal at 13:19 of the first, followed by Travis Moen’s goal at 17:54, which was the first shorthanded goal the Islanders have let up this season. Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Halpern and Andrei Kostitsyn tallied the three other Canadiens goals.
With the loss, the Islanders fall 4-3-2 on the season and Islanders head coach Scott Gordon didn’t shy away from pointing out his team’s flaws in Wednesday night's matchup.
“They were able to generate a lot of offense off of our own mistakes,” Gordon said. “We didn’t spend a lot of time in the offensive zone and we played more defense than we should have.”
“Our power play, obviously we scored the two goals, but I didn’t like what we did coming up the ice,” said Gordon. “Our support all over the ice wasn’t very good coming out of our zone. I didn’t like the way that we broke out of our zone and as a result we were an easy check tonight.”
John Tavares and Doug Weight also scored for the Islanders. To start the third period with a bang, Wisniewski fired up for a shot from the blueline, as Tavares created a screen in front of goaltender Carey Price and tipped the puck to bring the Islanders within one goal for the second time.
Tavares’ power play goal was the fastest goal the Islanders have scored to open a period this season, as it came just 13 seconds into the third period. With the tally, the sophomore forward has six goals in just as many games this season.
The Islanders tallied their third goal of the game at 12:56 of the third when Wisniewski fired a slap shot from the point and Islanders captain Doug Weight tipped his stick for a deflection as forward Matt Martin screened Price in front of the net.
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 30 saves on the night, including one penalty shot from Benoit Pouliot, but it wasn’t enough for the Islanders win. Kostitsyn solidified 2 points for the Canadiens when he tallied an empty net goal after the Islanders pulled Roloson for the man advantage with less than a 1:30 left to play.
“We turned it over in areas that we shouldn’t have,” said Roloson. You can’t discredit what Montreal did. They played their game plan. They created turnovers and capitalized on those turnovers.”
El Nino’s Fate Everyone has been wondering whether the Islanders fifth overall 2010 Entry Draft selection, Nino Niederreiter, will remain with Long Island based franchise throughout the remainder of the season or whether he will be returned to his junior club, the Portland Winterhawks, for one more year of seasoning.
The decision to return or keep the rookie forward will likely be made within the next few hours and Niederreiter is happy it’s finally on the horizon. “I’m happy that the decision is going to be in a few hours and I’ll know what’s going on. In the end, I tried my best and tried to work as hard as I could,” Niederreiter said.
Both Gordon and Garth Snow, the Islanders General Manager, have been close-lipped on the future of Niederreiter. And even after playing in his ninth game, Gordon gave no hints as to where Niederreiter will play the remainder of his season when he said, “Tonight will have nothing to do with our decision (on Niederreiter).”
Look for live Twitter and Facebook updates on Thursday.