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Canadiens 4*, Islanders 3 (*SO): Poor job protecting a lead foils win streak

Montreal came to Brooklyn and left with two points they should have never had.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders
Drouin had a good night, despite missing a yawning net.
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens came to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders for a Monday night matchup of two teams doing surprisingly well to start the season. And in New York’s case, doing well enough to ride a five-game win streak and to be protecting first place in the Metro Division when the evening began.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Corsica | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

2 for Zeek and a 3-1 Lead

As they’ve done a few times already this season, the Isles got on board quickly to start the game. Adam Pelech’s shot from the point created a mad scramble in front of the net, and with guys falling all over the place, Casey Cizikas somehow managed to find the puck and slide it under Habs goalie Antti Niemi.

The Canadiens didn’t wait long to even the score at 1, though. Jonathan Drouin converted when he took a saucer pass from Max Domi as he skated through the middle of the ice all alone.

The lead was restored by a successful 2-on-1 set up by Leo Komarov and finished off by Valtteri Filppula. Then, Cizikas added to the lead. He skated in as part of an odd-man rush, tried to go cross-ice to Ross Johnston, and his pass was blocked by Jordie Benn. But unfortunately for Benn, the block went right back to Cizikas, and he was able to beat Niemi, who had already begun committing to Johnston, on the short side.

Habs Take Control

Shots-on-net through the first were 8-8. But the Canadiens buzzed around the ice for the final 40 minutes, while the Islanders looked like they had contracted the flu. They finished with a 35-24 shot advantage, and from how it looked on TV, it was only a matter of time before they got a couple goals back.

Thomas Greiss resisted the onslaught as long as he could, but Drouin and Domi connected again toward the end of the second. This time, it was Domi who put it home, and Montreal went into the third down only a goal.

Cal Clutterbuck’s walk-off interview at the beginning of the second intermission made it seem like the Isles were aware of how poorly they were playing to protect the lead, and that they were going to come out in the third period playing like brick walls. Instead, they looked like they were skating with bricks on their feet.

It seemed like they were going to steal that sixth straight win when Drouin missed a completely open net only a few feet out - that fate was taking over again for the Islanders. “Au contraire,” dit les Habitants. Fate was on the Canadiens’ side, and it was evident when Artturi Lehkonen tied the game. Mathew Barzal’s childhood friend Noah Juulsen floated a shot from the point that Lehkonen ever so slightly tipped past Greiss.

The tie was nearly broken a few times as the third wound down, but this game was headed for overtime. With a wrinkle, however.

OT Power Outage

With about 30 seconds left in regulation, the Canadiens were whistled for a blatant too many men infraction, and the Islanders threatened for the 30 seconds they played 5-on-4. But when the man advantage carried into overtime and the on-ice manpower shifted to 4-on-3, their threats turned into whimpers. They shot themselves in the foot, too. It wasn’t good defense by Montreal; it was an inability to make and receive passes and not taking any shots. They may have gotten one off, but only toward the end. 3-on-3 was characteristically coronary-inducing, but ended without a goal.

The shootout went five rounds, and ended on the only goal scored during it. Joel Armia, taking his first-ever shootout attempt, wasted no time and put on no moves before he snapped over Greiss’ glove.

Thoughts and Such

The win streak wasn’t gonna go on forever, but it’s disappointing to see it end via a blown two-goal lead. And the blown lead wasn’t bad luck - they looked pretty awful in the second and third, per my eye test. They did secure one point, though, and the Penguins lost in regulation to the Devils.

Up Next

The Islanders head back on the road, playing the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at 7:30 in Tampa.