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[Final] Montreal Canadiens 4 (EN), New York Islanders 1: Tavares returns, but offensive woes persist

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When you're slumping and they aren't, the bounces go the other way.

They fell for the old hook-and-linesman play.
They fell for the old hook-and-linesman play.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The return of captain and leading scorer John Tavares was not enough to boost the slumping New York Islanders offense, which managed just one goal in a 4-1 road loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

That scoreline looks worse than the flow of play itself, though the Habs had the greater share of dangerous chances even in the first two periods when shots registered were 15-13 for Montreal. (They finished 24-18.)

The Islanders, who entered the game with the NHL's eighth-highest offense at 2.92 goals per game and were fourth in the league last year with 2.99 goals per game, have nonetheless managed just eight goals in the last five games, including the three games Tavares missed. With the score 1-1 in the second, the Isles had a golden opportunity on a 1:20 4-on-3 power play but came up empty.

The Habs entered the game with the second-most productive offense so far, putting up 3.64 goals per game. A big third period helped them continue that pace and break what had been an even game wide open.

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Game Highlights

  • After killing off one first-period penalty for too many men on the ice, the Islanders' vaunted penalty kill was breached for the Canadiens' first goal at 18:50. It was a tough one though, and a brilliant play by the Habs: After P.K. Subban moved the puck across the ice to Jeff Petry at the left point, Petry's slap pass to the slot was redirected in by the suddenly prolific Dale Weise, notching his team-high eighth goal of the season.
  • The Isles equalized at the end of a power play early in the second period. How many times have we seen Kyle Okposo go down the left wing and attempt a toe-drag move to the outside? This time he created space and drove the middle, snapping a hard shot that leaked through Mike Condon, who remained undefeated in regulation while spelling the injured Carey Price.
  • After a cagey, evenly and conservatively played first two periods, the Canadiens' took the lead and doubled it through some nifty plays in the third period.
  • With Johnny Boychuk caught flat-footed at the Habs blueline and the fourth line chasing hits deep in the zone, Nathan Beaulieu sent a heads-up long pass off the boards -- and off the linesman, unfortunately -- to Tomas Fleischmann. On the two-on-one that resulted, Fleischmann waited out Nick Leddy until below the goal line before setting up David Desharnais, who needed every bit of elevation on his shot to elude Jaroslav Halak's glove.
  • That made it 2-1 at 6:22. Less than two minutes later, it was 3-1 on a great Brendan Gallagher tip-in, right in front of Halak. With the way the Habs have been playing, and defending, it was game over at that point.
  • Tomas Plekanec iced it with an empty-netter to boost the Habs' offensive totals. The Isles pulled Halak for a sixth-attacker with over three minutes left, but it was rather academic and they never threatened.

The Isles next play Sunday against the Bruins in a 5 p.m. start in Brooklyn.