The busloads of Montreal Canadiens fans who made the trip to Long Island left the Nassau Coliseum smiling despite the snowstorm that battered Uniondale, N.Y.
After more than 61 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Canadiens produced the game's only goal on one of the few mistakes made all night by the NHL's most porous defense. David Desharnais took the puck away from Thomas Hickey behind the net and fed an onrushing Pacioretty, who evaded Aaron Ness' check and deflected the puck past Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov for the win.
"I was the recipient of a great pass," Pacioretty said. "It felt great to convert it. We've been fortunate lately, and this was another example."
The goal was Pacioretty's 12th of the season and ninth in 15 career games against the Islanders.
Carey Price stopped 21 shots for his second shutout of the season and the 21st of his career.
"That was a really good, hard-fought win," Price said after the Canadiens snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 10-2-1 in their past 13 games. "We played a really solid game from start to finish. We knew it would be low-scoring game, and we're playing really well, patiently waiting for our chance. The effort was there all night."
Nabokov, returning after a lower-body injury kept him out for four weeks, made 24 saves for the Islanders, who have dropped 12 of their past 13 games.
"The guys did a hell of a job around the net and in the neutral zone," Nabokov said. "It was a tight game. We did a lot of good things defensively."
The Islanders, back at the Coliseum after a 1-4-0 road trip, appeared to get a lift at the start from the NHL debut of center Ryan Strome. The fifth player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft was leading the American Hockey League in scoring before being recalled this week. He finished with two shots on goal and was 5-for-11 on faceoffs in 14:42 of ice time.
"I felt good out there," the 20-year-old said. " Glad to get my feet under me. I felt like we were working hard all game."
The Islanders had the best chance of the first period when John Tavares batted a rebound out of midair and past Price only to have the puck ping off the crossbar.
Each team went 0-for-2 on the power play in the second period, which saw the Islanders outshoot the Canadiens 7-6.
Both goaltenders were tested early in the third period. Nabokov had to make a nice stop on Alex Galchenyuk's close-in shot before Price got his arm on an open shot from the right circle by Cal Clutterbuck and stopped a break-in by Michael Grabner. Price also got in front of a point shot by Andrew MacDonald with several bodies in front of him and directed the rebound to the left corner.
Price made a big save on Tavares with 10:44 remaining in the third after the Islanders captain stole the puck in the left circle and tried to go five-hole.
"Offensively, we had our chances in a couple of odd-man rushes and a couple of 2-on-1s, but we just can't find the back of the net right now," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Both teams played pretty structured tonight, but they got the one in when they needed it."
Nabokov made his best stops in a half-minute span of the third period, robbing Tomas Plekanec on a one-timer from the slot with 7:05 to play and gloving Andrei Markov's rocket from the left point soon after that.
Material from team media was used in this report