Second period power play goals by Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson combined with a listless effort from the Canadiens handed the New York Islanders a 2-0 win over the Canadiens Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Evgeni Nabokov stopped all nineteen shots directed his way to get the shutout. Final shots on goal were 30-19 in favour of the Islanders. The Canadiens managed only eleven shots through the final two periods. The game’s three stars were Strome, Nabokov and Carey Price who stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Adding It Up–
Bad Timing – The loss, combined with the Tampa Lightning’s 4-2 home ice win over the Philadelphia closed the race for home ice advantage to one point. The Lightning will host Columbus Friday night and finish their season in Washington on Sunday. The Canadiens final game will be Saturday night against the Rangers.
Team Effort – Blame back to back games, early morning arrival from Chicago, an opponent that was waiting for them in Montreal, an opponent that was carrying 10 minor leaguers and had nothing on the line. Stir it together and you have what we saw the Canadiens gave us in this game which, in final analysis, in terms of team effort – was nothing.
The Big Problem – Time and again in post game interviews the word “turnovers” came up. The Canadiens weren’t capable of controlling the puck through centre ice and time and again were forced to retreat, regroup or simply fall back and defend as the Islanders came back at them. Bluntly put, the Islanders, with ten members of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in their lineup, had the puck all night. In the first two periods they directed 61 shots at Carey Price while the Canadiens managed to get off 26.
He Said It All – “Tonight, we have to give them credit. But at the same time, we sucked.” – Thomas Vanek.
Also Worth Mentioning …. Another awful night for the power play. 0-for-3. That makes the power play 0 for it’s last 20 over the last seven games. Not where you want to be going into the playoffs. ……They were given an opportunity to get back into the game early in the third period when John Persson went off for hooking. The Canadiens not only didn’t get a shot on goal with the man advantage, they didn’t even attempt one. ……Further indication of how bad the Canadiens were: their usually reliable penalty killers gave up both goals on three Islander power plays. ……Douglas Murray, just back from the first suspension of his nine year career, may be seeing more time off. He hit Johan Sundstrom from behind crashing him into the boards and was handed a game misconduct which means more attention from Brendan Shanahan and company. ….Carey Price, who didn’t have to go to Chicago, turned out to be the only bright spot in the game. He was on top of it all night. Could have been 5-0 without him. ……Lars Eller didn’t play because of the flu. …..The Canadiens announced after the game that Alex Galchenyuk will miss at least the first round of the playoffs with a lower body injury that is suspected to be in the area of his knee.
From the Coach – Michel Therrien on his night behind the bench “ It was a bad performance from the team. It was pretty simple. Our game was not sharp. Five-on five was not sharp. Our special teams weren’t good. The only positive thing I can take is that Carey Price gave us a chance to stay in the game.”
Moving On – The situation remains the same. If the Canadiens win their last game and Tampa Bay loses one of it’s two remaining games then the Canadiens will finish in second place in the Atlantic Division and hold home ice in the playoffs opening series. As important, the Canadiens would also hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference behind Boston and Pittsburgh. Tampa catches up the game in hand they hold Friday night against Columbus. The Canadiens season ends Saturday against the Rangers.