Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano summarized last night’s 5-3 loss to the Montreal Canaidens best:
“We were down by two goals and we kept coming,” he said. “We didn’t quit. Those guys aren’t going to quit. That’s part of the effort tonight. There’s no excuse for losing and sometimes you get sick and tired of hearing it, but this was a game I thought we should have come out with a point.”
After jumping out to a 1-0 lead on Matt Moulson’s 15th goal of the season in the first, the Canadiens scored three unanswered goals. But the Islanders were not beat. Josh Bailey and John Tavares each scored in the third to tie the score at three at 11:28.
“I thought we played pretty well in the third,” Bailey said. “We dominated a majority of the play, we played sound defensively and we got rewarded with a couple goals, but it was a tough goal at the end of the game. Grabby (Michael Grabner) took his guy to the net and did the right thing and then they make a change and their guy comes off the bench, Monty is screened. It was unfortunate timing.”
Both Bailey and Tavares’ goals were the result of hard work and persistence. A heads-up play from Brian Rolston and timing from Bailey around the crease cut the differential 3-2 at 5:18. The Isles evened the score at 11:28; PA Parenteau’s pass from behind the goal found Tavares who poked at Price to strike for the gritty goal around the paint.
The Habs caught their second wind when, rushing off the bench, former Islanders forward Petteri Nokelainen scored on a slap shot at the blue line to beat Montoya at 13:45 and retake the Canadiens lead, 4-3.
“I couldn’t see it. It was off the bar and in,” Montoya said. “We did a great job of coming back in that game, but I’m not going to make an excuse. That was a great shot off the post and (I had) no eyes on it.”
Rolston said: “We got caught in our end a little bit, we had got caught a little bit tired and I think someone had changed, (Nokelainen) came off the bench and we just lost coverage there. And I don’t think Al really saw it until the last minute there. It’s just one of those things, but we can play a better team game. We have to get points.”
An empty net goal from Hall Gill at 19:09 of the third sealed the Canadiens win.
The Islanders penalty kill was tested in the second period as they were shorthanded for 7:24 and Montoya helped keep the Isles in the game as he made 15 saves.
Moulson scored the first goal of the night at 7:50 of the first period, but the lead was short-lived. Andrei Kostitsyn at 9:15 and Mathieu Darche took the Canadiens first lead, 2-1, at 13:28.
“We had some plays we were trying to force a little too much instead of trying to keep it simple and chip it in and get our forecheck going,” Moulson said. “They’re a really good transition team. They have a lot of guys that are good offensively and once we started chipping (pucks) in again and got back to our game, we started to get some pressure back.”
Showing resiliency is something the Islanders have demonstrated more and more lately. To go on and lose the game without earning a point or two is unacceptable, according to the Isles.
“They were up by two goals and we came back and tied it,” Rolston said. “We showed some resilience coming back for sure, but it’s not good enough. We can talk about having games in hand all day long, but we have to win these games and we have to be better.”
Bailey added, “We have to find a way. These are important games. These are teams we need to start passing and gaining ground in the standings. It’s a tough loss.”
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