MONTREAL — For Anthony Beauvillier, it was a magical night: He scored a goal in his first-ever game in his hometown.
For the Islanders, it was “textbook,” as Doug Weight termed the 3-0 shutout of the Canadiens on Thursday night that likely was the Isles’ best road game of the season.
It came at the right time, too: The Islanders put together consecutive road victories for the first time all season and held on to the second wild-card spot with the win (the Bruins, who beat the Kings, also have 68 points but have played one more game).
“It’s a validation,” Weight said. “To be in control of that spot, even with so many games left, and win one — it’s us getting over the hump a bit because we’ve had chances to jump into that spot before and not done it.”
They did it thanks to a full team effort, led by Beauvillier, the 19-year-old from nearby Sorel-Tracy who scored the opening goal 5:28 into the game. That drew big cheers from the 50 or so friends and family on hand to see him play.
“I can’t ask for a better night,” said Beauvillier, who was a monster all game, putting three shots on Carey Price and hustling all over the ice. “I was trying to nap earlier today and I was just thinking it would be good to get a win, have my friends and family happy after the game. This was special.”
Thomas Greiss turned aside 24 shots and benefited from two correct calls that waved off Montreal goals within a 56-second span in the third period.
With the Isles up 2-0, Paul Byron deflected Shea Weber’s point shot with a stick above the crossbar. Referee Wes McCauley immediately waved it off, and it was confirmed on a video review.
Less than a minute later, Canadiens rookie Artturi Lehkonen drove to the net and quite clearly batted a rebound past Greiss with his gloved right hand. Francis Charron, the other referee, immediately waved that one off and didn’t need a review.
“I wasn’t too sure about the first one, but the second one was right in front of me,” said Greiss, who posted his third shutout of the season. “Good to get those calls there.”
No other luck was needed. The top line of Anders Lee, John Tavares and Josh Bailey controlled play every time it took the ice, with Bailey making a perfect feed to Lee for a 2-0 lead at 5:58 of the second period after the Canadiens had their best stretch of the night.
Tavares hit an empty net with 58.8 seconds left to seal the win, the Islanders’ first at Bell Centre since the end of the 2013-14 season.
After starting the season 1-6-1 away from Barclays Center, the Islanders are 8-7-3 in their last 18 on the road.
“We know how to win on the road and we’ve played some good games on the road,” Tavares said. “No one’s afraid of playing in these kinds of games.”
Now the Islanders head to Columbus, where they can continue their hot play and put themselves in an even better playoff position heading into March.
“There’s still a lot of games to go,” Tavares said. “When you’re in that [playoff] spot, it makes you realize how hard it is to stay there. We can’t be satisfied or take our foot off the gas. There’s a lot of work left to be done.”