NHL Game Summary - Montreal at NY Islanders
(Saturday, February 24th)
Final Score: NY Islanders 3, Montreal 2
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - Jason Blake scored the go-ahead goal and Frans Nielsen had a goal and an assist for his first NHL points to lead the New York Islanders over the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, at Nassau Coliseum.
Richard Park added two assists and Rick DiPietro made 20 saves for New York, which has picked up 24 points in its last 16 games (10-2-4) to move into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders moved into a tie with the Canadiens for the final playoff spot with 70 points. New York, though, holds the current tiebreaker with two games at hand, thus leaving the Isles in the playoff picture heading into Sunday.
Sheldon Souray and Chris Higgins each scored for the Canadiens, who had a three-game win streak halted. Saku Koivu had two assists and Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for Montreal, which fell behind late in the first period and never caught up.
With the game tied at 1-1, Blake put the Islanders ahead for good late in the first period. Blake broke into the offensive zone along the right-side boards with the puck. He darted towards the crease and just before cutting behind the net, he backhanded the puck low past Halak for a 2-1 lead with 4:02 remaining until the intermission.
The Isles then grabbed a two-goal lead heading into the third period thanks to Nielsen's tally with 9:08 left. After gathering the rebound of a Park shot between the circles, Nielsen faked a shot to get Halak to the ice and then skated to the left slot and easily wristed the puck into an open net.
"I couldn't believe it," said Nielsen of his goal. "Of course, I've been waiting for that a long time, a lot of games and it's just huge. Unbelievable."
Montreal made it interesting with a third-period goal when Higgins' turnaround wrister found its way between the legs of DiPietro just 3:50 into the period.
However, the Isles survived the final 16-plus minutes to play themselves into playoff position.
"It seemed like we got away from our game plan a little bit and they took advantage of it," said Montreal forward Michael Ryder of the second period. "At this time of year we can't afford to do that"
Jeff Tambellini started the game's scoring when he put home a rebound of a Nielsen shot just 2:43 into action.
"Anytime you get contributions from the fourth line it's a big plus for us, especially when Jeff Tambellini scored his goal," said New York head coach Ted Nolan. "The one thing we've wanted him to do is be a little more gritty and get in front of the net. And Frans had some great patience for that second goal, so that line played well for us"
Souray then tied the contest just over 11 minutes later when his slap per from the top of the right circle found its way past DiPietro. The goal came on the power play.
Blake set a career-high in goals in the season with 29...DiPietro improved to 6-2-2 in his last 10 games...The Isles went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Montreal went 1-for-3...The loss for Halak is his first in four games since making his debut on February 18.
02/24 21:34:44 ET