The New York Islanders outshot the Montreal Canadiens 14-3 in the first period and didn't concede a shot on Chad Johnson for the first 14 minutes, but a pair of quick Habs goals in the second period overturned a 1-0 lead and this time the Isles could not find the needed late magic against Carey Price.
David Desharnais scored late in the third period to put the game away for a 3-1 final, but overall the Isles outshot the Habs 38-21. That will be enough to further fan angst over the Isles backup goaltending, though the goals conceded on this night were hardly gaffes, starting with Andrei Markov's tying goal that went through a triple screen.
When Kyle Okposo finally broke through for the Isles midway through the first period on a two-on-one feed from John Tavares, it looked like the "play the way we need to play" work was going to pay off and the Islanders might be on the way to another impressive win.
But Montreal rebounded in the second, with Markov's goal being followed five minutes later by Brendan Gallagher scoring on a three-on-two after two thirds of the Isles fourth line was stuck deep in the Habs zone and well behind the counterattack.
So the Islanders head into the Christmas break with their four-game win streak halted, while Montreal and Tampa Bay (who beat Pittsburgh tonight), pulling even with the Isles at 46 points in a tie for second in the Eastern Conference.
The Special Teams
The Isles did a decent job of staying out of the box and killed both Canadiens power plays. They weren't able to generate anything on their own two power play opportunities, with coach Jack Capuano even mentioning the possibility of changing personnel afterward.
"The power play seemed to slow us down," he said. "We're not generating shots."
Also (but not specific to special teams): "We had some guys that were way off tonight, I'm not gonna lie. Guys weren't moving. You can't reach in this game, you've got to have constant motion, move your feet."
That and more in the Capuano post-game below:
The Isles play in Buffalo Saturday night, their first meeting of the season and a visit to Matt Moulson's new home. We'll have a special pre-gamer for that one.
Goalie Kevin Poulin, who was recalled on emergency conditions before the game, was reassigned to AHL Bridgeport afterward.