With the help of four second period goals, the Islanders cooled off the surging Montreal Canadiens and snapped a five-game winless streak, by taking a 4-3 victory on Thursday at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders improved to 5-8-3 as four different players scored goals. Despite having won seven of their last 10 games, the Canadiens could not come all the way back after the Islanders jumped out to a 3-0 lead and drop to 8-8-3 on the season.
Early in the first period, while the Canadiens were on their second powerplay of the game, Yannick Weber ripped a shot that Evgeni Nabokov turned aside, but he suffered an injury that forced him out of the game. Rick DiPietro made his second relief appearance of the season, making 24 saves on the night.
The game was scoreless through one period, but it didn’t take long for the Islanders to convert in the second as they found the back of the net just 41 in. Budaj misplayed the puck behind his net and PA Parenteau made him pay, putting the Islanders up 1-0. The puck dribbled off the end boards and in front of the net for an easy tip-in for Parenteau.
Later in the second, Jay Pandolfo converted a cross-ice pass from to notch his first goal as an Islander and his 100th National Hockey League goal of his career.
“It was just nice to just get a goal,” Pandolfo said. “It’s nice to get a win most importantly. We’ve been struggling as of late, so it was big for us to find a way to get a win tonight.”
Matt Martin had a puck go off his skate in the offensive zone and took out two Montreal defensemen trying to track it down. That enabled Mark Streit to corral the loose puck just in front of the crease and poke it past Budaj at 9:08 into the second period to give the Islanders a 3-0 lead.
The Canadiens would not go quietly, though. After a Mike Mottau turnover, Lars Elder found Max Pacioretty for a one-time slapshot that beat DiPietro over his left shoulder at the 14:52 mark. Minutes later, Erik Cole sent a shot past a sprawling DiPietro to cut the Canadiens’ deficit to 3-2.
Just 27 seconds later, the Islanders built their lead back to two when Matt Moulson found an opening between Budaj’s pads to give the Islanders a 4-2 lead.
Steve Staois took a boarding penalty with just under six minutes remaining in the game, and the Canadiens converted late in the powerplay when Mike Cammalleri found Brian Gionta, but it was ultimately too little too late.
We knew that we had to start winning games,” Travis Hamonic said. “This was the biggest game of the year so far. We did a lot of good things tonight and have to make sure we keep going in the right direction.
The Islanders will wrap up their three-game home stand on Saturday when they play the Boston Bruins. They will salute the Islanders first captain, Ed Westfall, by inducting him into the Islanders Hall of Fame.