These things sometimes happen: A playoff-bound team has a kinda-need-but-don't-really-need-to-win game against a non-playoff team with lots of young job-chasers who have nothing to lose.
Playoff team comes out flat, gets worse during the second period, suffers a break that puts them behind and voila: They never climb back, so the New York Islanders shut out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in Montreal in what was, surely this time, Nabokov's final shutout.
There was even some rich (albeit costly and painful) irony in how the Isles got their two goals. The first came from Ryan Strome, when the Isles finally cashed in a five-minute power play after Douglas Murray knocked Johan Sundstrom out of the game [video/giffage this way]. The second came from Brock Nelson on another power play, thanks to a penalty by ... none other than temporary Isle Thomas Vanek.
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By game's end, the Isles had outshot the club from Montreal 30-19, and the Habs didn't muster much during the third period, when the Isles held a usually-quite-surmountable 2-0 lead. Montreal even had two power plays in the third that amounted to little.
For Nabokov, it was his 59th career NHL regular season shutout. His refrain is "I'm not done yet!" but I mean surely, this time...
Extra Notes That Don't Fit into Pithy Paragraphs
- Ryan Strome's slapshot goal was kind of awesome. Just a straight-out high rocket from distance, using Casey Cizikas as a screen.
- Nelson's goal was also cool, and hilarious. He apparently frightened Alexei Emelin enough at the blueline for Emelin to wipe out ass over tea Murray, allowing Nelson space to break in and beat Carey Price short side. Not a typical power play goal, but we'll take it, with just 20 seconds left in the second period.
- With his assist on Strome's goal, Josh Bailey has hit a new career high for points in a season (36). Deal with it, you haters of chain workouts.
- With Sundstrom surely out at least for tomorrow night (right?) in New Jersey, I've no idea who will come up next. Time to resurrect ATO #55? How about Justin Johnson for a feel-good cameo?
- The reaction to Murray's hit was ... I mean I guess that's all you can expect. Rough guys Brett Gallant and Mike Halmo gather around, but Murray's already in his like "What? Accident, I'm just that slow" mode and refs have already intervened. Murray was tossed off the ice before you could say "Can Shanahan still review Canadiens infractions?"
- Evidently Murray won't be suspended, so: Double-whammy for Habs fans.
- Gallant, by the way, fought a courteous George Parros for his second NHL fight in as many games. Video posted to YouTube by a Rod Gallant, among others:
Tomorrow the Isles play in Newark. The Devils are out of the playoffs, so that will be memorable.