The New York Islanders only showed up for one period on Wednesday night and, thanks to Thomas Greiss, nearly got away with it.
But a late Shea Weber blast on the Canadiens’ only power play of the night gave Montreal their third lead of the night and the game winner with under three minutes to go.
The Nick Leddy slashing penalty to enable that goal was just the second call of the night. The first one, which didn’t come until five minutes remained in the second period, allowed the Islanders to stay in the game after John Tavares tied it at 1-1 late in the second.
Other than that, the first two periods were all Montreal, and all Greiss. Though registered shots were 8-5 for the Isles in the first, that didn’t reflect the onslaught of scoring chances for the Habs and just sloppy and lifeless play by the Isles.
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They survived a scare when Anthony Beauvillier took a point blanks shot off the outside of the knee that immediately brought him to ground and, once tended to, straight to the locker room under assistance. He’d return later in the game, but you wonder if that will swell up after travel for tomorrow’s road game in Pittsburgh.
With the Islanders showing no life and lucky to be in a 1-1 game at the second intermission, Jack Capuano went “full mix” on the line blender. Among the changes, Anthony Beauvillier returned to the game and took Andrew Ladd’s slot next to John Tavares and Josh Bailey.
With the “Kid Line” of yore back together, Brock Nelson had an outstanding chance from the low slot, set up by Ryan Strome and Anders Lee’s forecheck, but snuffed out by Al Montoya as tensions escalated following the whistle.
Sometimes teams come to life when they know they’re dealing with house money, as the Isles were needing just to win a 20-minute period after loafing through the first 40.
That certainly was true of the Isles in the third, but every time it looked like they would cash in on their luck, the Canadiens took the lead back.
Phillip Danault followed consecutive shifts of Isles pressure to convert on a Habs counterattack against the run of play at 11:21 to make it 2-1.
The Isles answered with more pressure, and Dennis Seidenberg’s whistler found its way through several bodies to tie the game at 2-2 less than three minutes later. But the late Montreal power play tempted the hockey gods to even the ledger, and Weber’s much-feared slap shot administered the karmic justice.
An Isles fan can take solace that Weber’s shot didn’t take off Travis Hamonic’s head off, as it looked frighteningly close.
Can't believe Hamonic tried to get in front of this. https://t.co/feZf3h39fO— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 27, 2016
Though the third period may have given us a glimpse of how the Isles are supposed to be playing, the final result was appropriate and fair. The Islanders’ futility against the Habs lingers into a new season, and their record falls to 3-4 before a tough meeting with the defending Stanley Cup champs tomorrow night.