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The red hot New York Islanders couldn’t bury a flat Montreal Canadiens team in the first period as they saw a five game win streak come to an end.
As a result, the Habs will head into their extended holiday break on a happy
note with a 3-1 victory.

Canadiens fans were robbed of a Jaroslav Halak/Carey Price duel as Halak was a surprise scratch, leaving Chad Johnson on duty. It was all Islanders through the first half of the first period as Price needed to be sharp early on. Tomas Plekanec took a hooking penalty near the midway point of the period, which Montreal killed off. The Islanders’ pressure would pay off as Kyle Okposo would finish off a 2-on-1 for the 1-0 lead.

It took about 14 minutes for Montreal to register their first shot on goal, and a Habs powerplay soon followed. Alex Galchenyuk had the best chance in close, but the effort was gloved by Johnson as time expired on the man-advantage. The Canadiens were fortunate to be down only 1-0 as shots were 14-3 in New York’s
favour at the end of the frame.

Montreal started the period off with more attacking intent as both teams traded chances early. The Canadiens drew level on an Andrei Markov one-timer from the point 6:10 into the second period. It was Markov’s 800th career game for the Canadiens, and extended his personal point streak to five games. Montreal continued to pressure and Brendan Gallagher was rewarded with a goal on the rebound in front of the goal for a 2-1 lead passed the halfway mark of the second.

The momentum continued to be on Montreal’s side, and not even a Jiri Sekac
penalty late in the period would slow it – add in a few big saves by Price. It
was a complete 180 for the visiting team as they took that 2-1 lead into the
final frame. New York continued to lead the in the shot department 23-12.

New York had the jump in the third period as they pegged Montreal back and generated some decent scoring opportunities. Montreal worked the counter attack, culminating with Plekanec breaking his stick on a 2-on-1. The Islanders would take a penalty past the midway point of the third, but Montreal could not capitalize.

It was an all out attack for the Islanders with roughly six minutes left as wave after wave of
offence came through, with Montreal settling to play the counter and pin New York deep with cycles. Montreal would seal it on a patient play by Lars Eller in the slot to feed an easy tip-in for David Desharnais in front of the net with just over a minute to play. Johnson left the net with a minute left in the game, leading to a Price stop and coincidental penalties to Brandon Prust and Cal Clutterbuck, with an extra two minutes to Clutterbuck for a Montreal 5-on-4 with 43 seconds to play. That would be the last real action of the game as Montreal skated to a 3-1 victory.

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star – Carey Price

He kept them around in the first period while making some difficult stops throughout the game.
Price passed Ken Dryden for third all-time in games played in the process.

37 saves on 38 shots – .974 save percentage – 1.00 GAA

2nd Star – Andrei Markov

Not too shabby of a night for the 800 game veteran. Aside from scoring, he didn’t do too much wrong on the back end.
He has a pretty sweet five-game point streak going as well.

1 goal – 0 assists – +2 rating – 3 shots – 0 hits – 1 takeaway – 25:33 TOI

3rd Star – Brendan Gallagher

He scored the winner from his office. He played a solid all around game, with some excellent defensive blocks while working the corners and the front of the net hard.

1 goal – 0 assists – +1 rating – 3 shots – 1 hit – 0 takeaways – 16:57 TOI

Honourable Mention

Alex Galchenyuk looks more and more like the future at center as his natural abilities are shining through. And, he had another great night of chemistry with Max Pacioretty and Gallagher.

0 goals – 1 assist – +1 rating – 2 shots – 0 hits – 0 takeaways – 17:44 TOI

Stat of the Night

It’s a broken record, but yeah – the first period. How this team still can’t get
it going in the first period is simply puzzling. Then again, I’ve been harping this point all season and yet they still win.

The Canadiens are back in action Monday, Dec. 29. Have a safe and happy holidays folks.