In their previous four games the Islanders masked some mistakes and stole some wins, but their flaws were exposed against Montreal in the team’s 5-3 loss at Bell Centre last night.
Although James Wisniewski chipped in with three points—one goal and two assists—the Islanders were lucky to leave Quebec with only a two-goal deficit.
“The first period was the same as the second and the third. We didn’t skate, we turned the puck over and we weren’t very sharp from the beginning,” head coach Scott Gordon said.
Indeed the Islanders got behind early, trailing 2-0 after a deflection in front from Mathieu Darche at 13:19 and a shorthanded goal from Travis Moen at 17:54 in the first period.
Wisniewski tallied his first of the night—a slapshot from just inside the blue line—to cut the Habs lead in half, but the Islanders gave a speedy and skilled Canadiens team too many chances on the other end.
“If you’re going to allow them to make skill plays all the time, they have some pretty good skill over there. They’re going to make them and create off it,” Gordon said.
After picking up his first assist of the night--John Tavares defelcted his point shot for a power-play goal early in the second—Wisniewski was the recipient of a nasty hit from Travis Moen along the boards.
The 26-year-old defenseman spent several minutes face-down on the ice before skating off to the Islanders bench and returning to the game.
Although Moen apologized after the game, Wisniewski was still disappointed in the play and the call—a two-minute minor boarding penalty rather than a five-minute major and game misconduct.
“That kind of stuff, you paralyze guys. There’s no room in hockey for that. I’m in a defenseless position and you take advantage of that three or four feet from the boards? A minor penalty?” Wisniewski remarked. “That’s the kind of stuff that boggles my mind that they don’t crack down on stuff like that.”
Wisniewski wasn’t the only one who felt the Canadiens took unnecessary liberties during the game.
Goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who turned away 30 shots last night, was upset after Benoit Pouliot barreled into him in the crease during the third period.
“When we go down in a butterfly we’re in a vulnerable spot. Since I’ve been to Canada I’ve seen a lot of goalies getting ran and goals being counted,” said Roloson, who pounced on Pouliot after the play. “We have to be able to stop the puck and have the opportunity to stop the puck. If the referees aren’t going to take the onus I guess the players are going to have to.”
Although rookie Nino Niederreiter made a nice defensive play to stop Mike Cammalleri on a breakaway in the first period, the 18-year-old Swiss winger was held off the scoresheet in his all-important ninth NHL game.
Per league rules, the Islanders must now decide whether to keep him or send him back to his junior team to delay the start of his entry-level contract.
“The game had nothing to do with our decision. He wasn’t going to make or not make our team based on this game,” Gordon said.