Rough night for Montoya in Isles' 5-3 loss
MONTREAL -- Al Montoya has grabbed a few extra points for the Islanders of late. Tuesday night, he gave at least one back.
The Islanders' goaltender gave up three bad goals, including the winner to break a tie with 6:15 to play, in a 5-3 loss to the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
After the Islanders scored twice in the third to erase a 3-1 deficit, former Islanders first-round pick Petteri Nokelainen scored on a 50-foot slap shot past Montoya to lose a very winnable game on the road.
Montoya said he was screened by Steve Staios on the shot, but Jack Capuano didn't seem too interested in that explanation. "I'm not going to comment on that," Capuano said of his goaltender. "You guys watched the game."
Montoya (24 saves) sandwiched a brilliant second period around a rough first and the bad goal in the third.
The Isles fell behind 3-1 just 31 seconds into the third when Michael Grabner overcommitted to the left point on a Canadiens power play and the confusion left David Desharnais open to feed Erik Cole for a redirect.
"I made a lot of mistakes, I had a bad night," Grabner said. "But we battled back."
The revival started with Josh Bailey's pretty, patient backhand to beat Carey Price at 5:18 off two nice assists by Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau. There were a handful of chances to tie in the next five minutes, including three whacks from in close by Frans Nielsen as the Canadiens' defense turned jittery.
Another shift around the Canadiens' net resulted in John Tavares jamming home his 10th of the season with 8:32 to play. The Islanders were humming, playing the same strong game they did at the start of the night.
"We have to find a way to win that game," said Matt Moulson, who scored his 15th at 7:50 of the first after a terrible giveaway by the Canadiens' P.K. Subban. "When we got back to chipping the puck and going on the forecheck, we had some success."
Staked to the first-period lead, Montoya gave up a couple he'd like back. Andrei Kostitsyn scored off a sharp angle with Montoya deep in his net to tie it at 9:15. At 13:28, Montreal forward Mathieu Darche took an end-of-shift, 55-foot slap shot that squeezed through Montoya for a 2-1 Canadiens lead.
"That's one I should have stopped, no excuses," Montoya said. "I liked the way I responded after that."
He did have a brilliant second period, when the Isles took three minors. Montoya robbed Cole on the power play from point-blank range, then got a toe on Lars Eller's break-in attempt, two of 15 second-period stops.
But Nokelainen's blast -- his second of the season and 19th career goal in 218 games -- proved to be the killer.
"A great shot off the post," Montoya said. "I had no eyes on it."
Montoya ramped up his game at just the right time for the Isles, when both Evgeni Nabokov and Rick DiPietro were out with groin injuries. But Montoya has allowed 10 goals in the last two games and, with Nabokov back after a month on injured reserve, Montoya may not have such a tight grip on the top spot.
"We owe him a lot more than he owes us at this point," Bailey said. "He's been stellar all year. He still gave us a chance to win this one, and we've got to find a way."