While most Islanders fans were bundled up inside their homes and shielding themselves from last night's blizzard, many Montreal fans flocked to Nassau Coliseum to make it their American outpost of the Bell Centre - and the Islanders lost, 3-0, in front of a hostile crowd.
Vastly outnumbering the Islanders' supporters among the 7,842 in attendance, Canadiens fans were more than happy to take over the Coliseum. As the Islanders left the ice with their sixth loss in eight games, they were serenaded by Montreal's fans.
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The Islanders gave up three power-play goals and couldn't convert on any of the six power-play opportunities they were awarded. They outshot Montreal 40-28, but Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak recorded his first shutout of the season.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," coach Scott Gordon said. "I don't think five-on-five they were in the same ballgame, but in special teams, they were way ahead of us."
Once again, the Islanders failed to deliver for goaltender Martin Biron. Biron, who made his first start since a 6-2 loss to Philadelphia Dec. 8, was given absolutely no offensive help from his teammates.
Saddled with some of the worst Islanders performances in front of him - most recently, that Dec. 8 loss against Philadelphia and a 6-1 drubbing from New Jersey Nov. 28 - Biron has yet to find his third win of the season.
"It's embarrassing," said Matt Moulson, who had a couple of great chances on the power play. "He plays his heart out every game and we don't give him the support he needs. We don't score any goals for him. We've got to be there for him."
In his first game back since suffering a torn ankle tendon in the season opener, defenseman Andrei Markov scored twice for Montreal. He snuck through a dribbling rebound for a power-play goal at 7:44 in the first, then scored again on the power play with a deep slap shot that glanced off Biron's left shoulder at 13:12 in the second to give Montreal a 2-0 lead.
In the previous two losses (one in overtime) to the Canadiens, discipline was an issue for the Islanders, who gave up four power-play goals in the first two games in Montreal in October. Said Biron, "We know the things that have made us successful against teams like that, and discipline is one of them. We can't afford to take that many penalties."
One game after giving up three power-play goals to the Rangers, the Islanders gave up three power-play goals to Montreal on five opportunities. The Islanders' penalty kill is 5-for-11 in the past two games.
"We're not doing the little things that gave us success at the beginning of the year . . . and obviously, it's killing us," said Nate Thompson, one of the team's best penalty-killers.
The Canadiens punished the Islanders' penalty-kill again in the third period. Scott Gomez sent a beautiful pass to Glen Metropolit, who snuggled against the left post for an easy goal to give Montreal a 3-0 lead at the 14:00 mark.
Beyond their ineffective penalty-killing, the Islanders' power play was in stark contrast with Montreal's potency with the man advantage.
Despite three straight second-period penalties by Tomas Plekanec, the Islanders could not score. After 10:03 of fruitless power-play time, the Islanders are without a goal in 18 straight power-play attempts.