The Canadiens were looking to build off their win on Saturday by visiting the Islanders for one last time at Barclays Center. After a slow start in the first ten minutes, the Habs poured on the offence, scoring three goals in a five-minute span. Montreal took a 4-0 lead into the third, then exchanged a couple of goals with New York. It was one of the Habs better road efforts on the year and it ended with a 6-2 win.
The Habs iced the same lineup as Saturday, meaning Jonathan Drouin was still out. The only difference was in the crease with Carey Price returning after his night off Saturday.
The first half of the opening frame saw some low-event hockey without many chances. Joel Armia had a golden opportunity four minutes into the game. He went on a two-on-one with Nick Suzuki, kept the puck, and fired it. He fooled Thomas Greiss, but couldn’t put it inside the post.
With six minutes to go, the Canadiens turned a boring period into a very exciting one. Ben Chiarot ripped a shot towards the goal. While battling the defender, Brendan Gallagher managed to get a stick on the shot for a perfect tip over Greiss’ glove.
Two minutes later Jeff Petry fired a shot on net from the point. Phillip Danault was screening the goalie in front and the puck tipped off the stick of Greiss and into the corner of the net to double the Habs’ lead.
The fun didn’t stop there. With just over a minute left Charles Hudon took advantage of an Islander turnover and ripped a perfect shot off the post and in for his first NHL goal this season.
The only bad news that came out of the first period for Montreal was that Tomas Tatar left the bench early on. He did come back at the near the end of the period to play a couple of shifts. Unfortunately, as the second period started the Canadiens announced that Tatar was done for the night with an upper-body injury.
The Habs sent Greiss to the showers early with their goal outburst, and Semyon Varlamov was brought in in relief to start the second.
The second period was played at a good pace. There was plenty of back and forth action but the Habs did a good job of not letting the Islanders get back into the game in any way.
New York was rewarded the game’s first power play with eight minutes left in the middle frame after a Max Domi tripping call. It didn’t have the desired effect for the Islanders. Armia forced Devon Toews to turn the puck over at the New York blueline. Armia took the puck and sent Paul Byron in alone. He made a move to the backhand and fired it home to extend the lead to four.
Late in the period, the Islanders got a second power play when Xavier Ouellet got caught for holding. Byron and Armia did a great job of keeping New York in their own zone by intercepting their breakout passes. The home crowd started getting restless and the Islanders were totally knocked off their game.
The Habs ended the second period with a 4-0 lead. Montreal has found a way to get multi-goal leads frequently lately, but they have been giving them right back. Tonight, the Habs did a great job of keeping New York down and not giving anything back.
The Islanders appeared to get one back just fifteen seconds into the third. However, video review showed that Anders Lee used a distinct kicking motion to tip the puck in so it was called off.
New York officially got on the board just over six minutes into the third. An uncharacteristically bad play from Price behind his own net led to Brock Nelson having a gimme on a feed from Josh Bailey to draw the Islanders within three.
The Canadiens did a good job of not letting the bad goal get to them. They kept control of the game and did not let it spiral out of control like some instances in the past. They kept putting pressure on New York and refused to sit back on their three-goal lead.
With 4:32 left in regulation time, Jordan Weal pounced on a struggling Michael Dal Colle at the Habs blueline and stole the puck. He went in the zone with Artturi Lehkonen to his right, but kept the puck and fired it past Varlamov to restore the four-goal lead.
The Canadiens faced some late controversy when a Chiarot penalty was followed shortly by a Lehkonen delay of game call. With the two-man advantage, Ryan Pulock fired a point shot past Price to make it a 5-2 game.
With Lehkonen still in the box, New York pulled Varlamov for a six on four. However, Armia pounced on a loose puck just outside the Habs’ line and sent it all the way down to the yawning cage to make it 6-2.
That was all the scoring for the night as Montreal killed off the rest of the advantage and the Canadiens walked out with one of their bigger road wins on the season.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Brendan Gallagher
Even without their star left winger, the top line was once again a driving force for the Canadiens. Gallagher was relentless on the puck in the offensive zone all night long. He also showed his great skill on the goal by making the perfect tip as he was fighting off an opposing player.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +2, 5 SOG, 1 hit, 13:50 TOI
Second Star – Joel Armia
Armia was a beast for the Habs tonight. At five on five, he was very hard to play against and created scoring chances all night long. His best work came on the penalty kill, where he used a great stick to break up passes and frustrate the opponent. His empty-net goal also ended any chance at a comeback bid for the Islanders.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +2, 1 SOG, 2 hits, 18:36 TOI
Third Star – Phillip Danault
Along with Gallagher, Danault did not appear to miss a beat without Tatar at his side. He still carried the play for large amounts of the game and managed to collect two assists on the night.
Stats: 2A, +2, 1 SOG, 1 hit, 18:13 TOI
Honourable Mention-Charles Hudon
After having some high scoring seasons in the AHL, Hudon’s scoring abilities haven’t translated to the big leagues the way that everyone thought they could. As an impending RFA, this might be Hudon’s last chance to impress management. If that is the case, he is off to a good start with a few solid games in a row, and a goal on a very nice shot this evening.
Stats: 1G (GWG), +1, 2 SOG, 3 hits, 15:12 TOI