NHL Game Summary - Montreal at NY Islanders
(Tuesday, March 21st)
Final Score: NY Islanders 3, Montreal 1
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - Robert Nilsson registered a goal and an assist while Rick DiPietro dazzled with 36 saves, as the New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, at Nassau Coliseum.
Sean Bergenheim and Jason Blake also scored for the Islanders, who put the brakes on a three-game skid and continued their quest for a possible playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. With this victory, New York now sits six points behind the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth and final spot.
"We have to start believing," said New York head coach Brad Shaw. "(Our standings points deficit) now seems manageable."
Mark Streit tallied the lone goal for the Canadiens, who lost for the fourth time in their last five games. Montreal entered the contest holding the eighth playoff spot, but is now one point behind Atlanta, with Toronto, Florida and Boston also in the hunt.
Cristobal Huet allowed three goals on 25 shots in the losing effort.
The Islanders moved ahead 2-1 on Nilsson's fourth goal of the season in the latter stages of the second period.
Following a turnover in the Montreal offensive zone, Chris Campoli sent a nice outlet pass to Nilsson, who corralled the puck in the neutral zone along the right half-wall. Nilsson then hustled over the blue line and, from the high slot, released a slap shot that deflected off the stick of Montreal's Sheldon Souray and into the cage at 14:37.
"I think it caught the end of my stick," Souray said. "I wanted to challenge him, but it was just a bad break."
Nilsson was again involved when New York took a two-goal lead midway through the final stanza. The Islanders controlled the puck for the better part of a minute in the offensive zone with solid cycling and hustle, which eventually led to several good scoring chances.
Shortly after Blake nearly connected on a rebound at the right post, he finally lit the lamp with 8:50 remaining in regulation. Holding the puck near the base of the left half-wall, Nilsson slid a pass out to the slot, where Blake fired a one-timer through traffic and past Huet for his 24th goal.
"Sometimes the legs are tired from the start, but we got going in the last two periods and got a huge win," Nilsson said.
The Habs recorded 13 shots on goal in the final stanza but could not solve DiPietro, who stood tall and made key saves down the stretch.
The teams traded goals in the first period. Bergenheim opened the scoring at the 9:11 mark before Streit's power-play marker, from Mike Ribeiro and Alex Kovalev, knotted the score just over two minutes later.
The Islanders improved to 17-14-2 at home this season...The Canadiens lead the season series, 2-1...Streit's goal was scored on a 5-on-3 advantage...New York will next play at Pittsburgh on Friday...These teams will meet for the fourth and final time next Tuesday in Quebec...Montreal now goes to Toronto for a two-game set at Air Canada Centre that begins on Thursday...The Isles finished 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Habs scored once on five chances with the extra skater...Attendance was 14,286.
03/22 00:13:04 ET