The Habs head to Long Island to take on the Islanders in what is a pivotal game for the home side, but not so much for the road team. Having clinched a playoff spot with Saturday’s OT loss in Boston, the Canadiens can go into tonight assured that they will participate in the playoffs for the 2nd time in 3 years (or 6 depending on how you look at it.) The Canadiens also know that they will not catch 6th place New Jersey and that 8th place New York will most likely not reach the 7th place Habs. This doesn’t mean that this game is without purpose though, having lost 3 in a row, Montreal has to be looking to head into the playoffs with some momentum. The Habs will also be looking for a good game out of Alexei Kovalev, who has been somewhat of a disappointment since coming over from the Rangers. These last three games could be important in deciding how the team enters the playoffs next week. For the Islanders, they will wish to all but put away any thoughts that Buffalo had in catching them for 8th place, however a loss could only give the Sabres an increased amount of hope to become the 5th Northeast division team to qualify for the playoffs.
Islanders 1-0: Montreal, or more specifically, Craig Rivet, took a penalty and it put the Habs behind early. A complete breakdown left Roman Hamirlik wide open and he made no mistake, ripping it past goaltender Theodore. Kvasha and the struggling Alexei Yashin received assists on Hamirliks 5th of the season. Too many players were following the puck instead of covering their assisgnments and the Canadiens paid for it.
Islanders 2-0: Another Isles defencemen joined in on the scoring as co-hardest shot winner Adrian Aucoin ripped one through the legs of Theodore from almost the same spot as Hamirlik. Again a case of missed assignments, although it is more excusable when you see that Ribeiro was tripped up in the neutral zone, something that should have been called.
NYI 4:06 Roman Hamirlik 5 (power play) (Oleg Kvasha, Alexei Yashin)
NYI 4:49 Adrian Aucoin 10 (Mark Parrish, Arron Asham)
Shots: NYI 7, MTL 4
Islanders 3-0: At the end of a rather lacklustre power play, Souray makes a costly mistake while trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He missed his opportunity and the puck went right by him to give the Isles a 2 on 1 with Peca and Parrish breaking away against Brisebois. Brisebois failed in an attempt to block the pass across and Peca was able to pass to Parrish who one-times it by Theodore.
Islanders 4-0: Some poor work by the Koivu line in the defensive zone leads to the 4th Islander goal. Trent Hunter finds a wide open Roman Hamirlik who again beats Theodore with a nice shot. Sheldon Souray was not too pleased with the whole team’s effort (and why should he be?) and he broke his stick over the crossbar following the goal.
Islanders 5-0: This time it is Dykhuis who messes up defensively as his clearing attempt is blocked by Parrish. Parrish is then free to fire a rolling puck past Theodore for his second of the game. A rather pathetic end of the period in an overall pathetic game for the Montreal Canadiens
Shots: NYI 8, MTL 9 for a total of NYI 15, MTL 13
NYI 16:01 Mark Parrish 21 (Michael Peca, Roman Hamirlik)
NYI 18:59 Roman Hamirlik 6 (Trent Hunter, Mattias Weinhandl)
NYI 19:24 Mark Parrish 22 (unassisted)
Montreal 1-5: Some confusion behind the net between Niinimaa and DiPietro leads to the Canadiens first goal of the contest. Dowd took control and fed it to Ward in front who beat the out of position DiPietro. It was Ward’s second goal in as many games.
MTL 8:24 Jason Ward 5 (Jim Dowd)
Shots: NYI 8 MTL 8, Final Shots NYI 23, MTL 21
Recap: A forgettable night for the Canadiens as they lose their 4th straight game following their unbelievable streak prior to last Wednesday. It’s back home for a game against Philly before closing out the regular season against Buffalo.