Montreal 5, NY Islanders 1 (Bell Centre)
posted by Rocket
Let's play: Who Am I?
I play on the Canadiens special teams, both power play and penalty killing units.
The power play is much more effective when I am in the line-up.
One of my roles is to shut down opposition forwards.
The Habs are unbeaten when I play.
The obvious answer is Andrei Markov. He is clearly the Canadiens' best player, and they are a much better hockey team with Markov in the line-up.
But what may be somewhat surprising is that you would also be correct if you guessed Glen Metropolit.
Last season, in Guy Carbonneau's system, Metropolit was little more than a spare part with an undefined role. This year, Jacques Martin expects Metropolit to be the shut down center.
It's similar to the responsibility that Metropolit was given when Bob Gainey went behind the bench last season. Gainey also had Metropolit killing penalties as he is doing this year.
But coach Martin also has Metropolit on the power play and tonight, gave him more than 18 minutes of ice time. The result was two assists for Metropolit and he was chosen the game's first star.
Metropolit also helped to elevate the play of his linemate, Max Pacioretty, who scored and had his best game of the season.
"I've played power play before, but my role has changed over the years. But it was good to be back there. I'm just trying to make room on the ice in front of the net," said Metropolit.
The Canadiens were 2-for-26 coming into the game on the power play. The power play unit connected twice on six opportunities. Metropolit was on the ice for both Canadiens goals.
Metropolit now has four points, and is the Canadiens' fifth best scorer after appearing in only three games, due to his rib injury.
The Canadiens won for the first game in regulation time this season, and the first regulation victory in 16 games going back to last season. They dominated from start to finish and out shot the Islanders 43-to-22.
Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, and Tomas Plekanec continued their excellent play. Cammalleri and Gomez each had a goal, while Plekanec tallied two assists. Gionta led the team with six shots on goal.
Kyle Chipchura and Max Lapierre both played better than in recent games. Lapierre broke his scoring slump with a goal and Chipchura squared off with Nate Thompson.
The Habs defense were very good at closing off scoring chances from the Islanders. Paul Mara had one of his best games as a Canadien.
It was a great bounce back game for Marc-Andre Bergeron who looked much more confident and recorded a goal and an assist.
Jaroslav Halak had another easy night, seeing only 12 shots over the first two periods. It was a puck-handling error by Halak that resulted in the single Islanders goal.
There is the temptation to diminish the win as it came at the expense of the lowly Islanders with a slow defense. But the Habs lost to the Long Island team last season. It was important for the Canadiens confidence not only to win, but win decisively.
The Habs followed Martin's game plan to sustain offensive pressure on the Islanders. The Canadiens' attack sent 82 shots in the direction of goaltender Martin Biron. Biron has had some success at the Bell Centre when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Canadiens now prepare for the game against the New York Rangers on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Gomez, Gionta, Cammalleri
Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Lapierre
Metropolit, Moen, Pacioretty
Chipchura, Latendresse, D'Agostini
Jaroslav Halak starts in goal for the Canadiens, Martin Biron starts for the Islanders.
scratches: Laraque, Stewart, Markov (ankle), O'Byrne (knee)
Rocket's three stars
1. Glen Metropolit
2. Max Pacioretty
3. Tomas Plekanec
3. Marc-Andre Bergeron
(photo credit: AP)