Friday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens was a far cry from the disappointing dud of two nights prior, but the outcome didn’t differ. The Islanders recovered from a poor start to the first period to dominate the streaking Canadiens for the last forty minutes of play, but the team’s inability to finish sunk them for their third straight loss and second straight to Montreal this week.
"I don't think the score reflects the end result," head coach Scott Gordon said after the game. "It's a very unique situation where you spend that much time in the offensive zone in the second two periods and not come away with a win."
In the first period, the Islanders did little to test backup goaltender Alex Auld in his first start of the season; the team didn’t register their second shot on goal until 8:32 into play.
Tomas Plekanec banked Mike Cammalleri’s blocked shot in for a power-play goal at 2:42 to give the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead, but a disheveled Islanders group was revived midway through the first largely by the play of gritty power forward Matt Martin, called up from Bridgeport on Tuesday.
Midway through the first period, Martin’s crushing hit down low on hulking Hal Gill administered a jolt to the team.
"That's why they brought me here," Martin said. "That's my job and that's what I've got to do to stick."
His momentum-changing hit on Gill was one of eight hits he logged throughout the game; Martin also added a fight against the 6-foot-7 defenseman and scored his first NHL goal.
The Islanders surged throughout the second period and limited the Candiens to only four shots on goal.
John Tavares drew two interference penalties within 17 seconds to give the Islanders 1:43 of 5-on-3 time midway through the period, but the Islanders couldn’t pull even with the two man-advantage.
After scoring a power-play goal in six straight games, the Islanders went 0-for-6 on the power play last night, granted their last opportunity came with only 10.4 seconds left in regulation.
The Canadiens have yet to surrender a power-play goal on the road this season.
“We did have chances. We had a few shots, but anytime you get a 5-on-3, you’ve got to make those count,” Tavares said.
Martin tied the game with an even-strength goal later in the second-period, however, burying a nice feed from Frans Nielsen for his first NHL goal.
"It felt great," Martin said. "I didn't get one last year and it kind of weighs on your head. Frans Nielsen made a great pass and I could've probably put that one in a million times over."
Although the Islanders gained the momentum, the Canadiens still managed to pull out their fourth straight win.
Jeff Halpern dished off to the trailing Benoit Pouliot to snap a 1-1 draw at 7:19 in the third and Travis Moen provided the insurance goal at 18:49 with a deflection of Brian Gionta's shot to make it 3-1.
“We created turnovers and controlled most of the play in the offensive end,” said goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who made 23 saves in his second consecutive start. “Unfortunately, [Auld] played a great game and gave his guys a chance to win.
Notes and Quotes: Although some were surprised to see Roloson awarded the start, Gordon said Rick DiPietro will start against Philadelphia.