Canadiens-Islanders: Carey Price Steals a Point, But Habs Lose in OT
This was one of the games on the home stand that made me nervous.
Apparently, I had good reason. The Islanders came into Montreal as one of the league's hottest teams over the past ten games at 6-2-2.
It also marked the return of Yann Danis to the Bell Centre facing his former team.
As it turned out, the Isles wouldn't need Danis to be the difference in the game.
The Canadiens started well. Price made some early saves. The forwards were being aggressive. Habs were getting pucks to the net but without players in front to deflect or cash rebounds. And there were a lot of rebounds. Danis was a little shaky to start.
It was a rebound deflected up by Danis that Tomas Plekanec knocked in for what could have been the game's first goal. After review, it was determined that Plekanec's stick was too high and the goal was disallowed.
Plekanec would get that goal back a few minutes later on the power-play. Max Pacioretty provided a perfect screen in front and Danis never saw the shot.
The Islanders tied it up on a missed defensive assignment by Matt D'Agostini. Mike Iggulden's goal extended his four game points streak.
Following the goal, the Habs seemed to stop skating. The period ended with the Canadiens up in shots 12-7.
The second period began with a very passive penalty kill by the Canadiens. The Islanders played an aggressive period and used their speed. Carey Price kept his team in the game. At one point the shots were 10-1 for the Isles with Price making at least six huge saves.
The Canadiens had stopped skating, their passing was erratic and they were losing battles for the puck. Bell Centre fans started getting restless. With about seven minutes left, the Habs started getting some offensive chances to make the shot total a little more respectable narrowing the difference to just a 12-7 advantage for the Islanders.
The Isles scored a power-play goal in the first minute of the third period. A point shot was tipped by Frans Nielson with Josh Bailey left alone to screen Price
Kostopoulos scored at the mid-mark of the period on a perfect feed from Andrei Markov. But the failure of the power play to score on a full two-minute five-on-three would prove to be costly for the Canadiens. The power play would finish one for six in the game.
Carey Price was the story of the third period with one spectacular save after another. The Islanders took 17 shots in the period, most of them being very difficult saves. The Bell Centre fans chanted CA-REY! CA-REY!
The Isles' pressure continued in overtime. They got the winner as Mathieu Schneider could not handle Kyle Okposo in front.
The Canadiens got one very important point. But this was the Islanders, the worst team in the league, and winners of only seven road games this season. With the lineup they iced, a case could be made to call them the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Carey Price was far and away the best player on the ice. He made numerous amazing saves, many with his glove hand. As Kostopoulos said, "If it wasn't for Carey, we would have lost two points."
Kostopoulos had a goal and a fight. Both Kostopoulos and Gregory Stewart tried to jump start their team in separate fights. They both should be given credit for going up against much bigger, heavier guys.
Defensive zone coverage was a problem again tonight. Gainey has identified some areas for improvement. It will take practise and trust. Koivu said "Our confidence is not as high as it should be. We need to keep working at the little details."
One Habs fan put it another way, "It will take some time for the team to shake the effects of Carbitis."
The camera work on RDS was behind the play several times during the game tonight.
Starting lineup: Lapierre, Higgins, Kostopoulos, Markov, Komisarek
Carey Price and Yann Danis started in goal.
Brisebois was scratched from the line-up. Kovalev was ill with the flu. Laraque, Bouillon, Latendresse, and Lang were out with injuries.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Carey Price
2. Frans Nielsen
3. Tom Kostopoulos
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