UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Rick DiPietro knew he had no chance at a goal, but took a shot anyway.
DiPietro made 33 saves, and Robert Nilsson scored to snap a second-period tie to help the New York Islanders end a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
But it was the goalie's shooting attempt at an open net with 55 seconds left that had the crowd buzzing.
"I put it on target, but there were a lot of guys back there," DiPietro said of his try that was stopped at the Montreal blue line. "I took a look up, and even if I got good wood on it, it was likely to be knocked down before it reached the net."
Sean Bergenheim and Jason Blake also scored for the Islanders, who are six points behind the eighth-place Thrashers in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Islanders have a game in hand on Atlanta, and the top eight clubs will qualify for the postseason.
"I think we're just trying to keep it simple," DiPietro said. "At this point of the season, we have to just trust our system and go out and play."
Mark Streit had the only goal for the Canadiens, losers in four of five. Cristobal Huet stopped 22 shots.
The Islanders took the lead at 9:11 when Bergenheim's second wraparound attempt beat Huet to the far corner.
New York was down two men for a full 2 minutes. With 7 seconds left in the power play, Streit wristed in a cross-crease feed from Mike Ribeiro to tie it 1-1 at 11:34.
"We were able to stop anything coming at us," DiPietro said. "Our defense did a great job of getting in front of the shot lanes and letting me see the puck. It was a backdoor play that beat us."
The Islanders moved back in front at 14:37 of the second period when Nilsson took a 50-foot slap shot that hit off the stick of a Montreal defenseman and dropped, fooling Huet as it went into the net.
New York had eight rookies in its lineup.
"All my friends who have played in Bridgeport have come up," Nilsson said. "It makes it more familiar."
Blake scored an insurance goal to make it 3-1 at 11:10. His one-timer from the slot trickled past Huet and gave Blake his 24th goal - second most on the team.
Montreal coach Bob Gainey didn't find any silver linings in the loss.
"Most of my evaluations of games at this point are results," Gainey said. "We don't have the luxury of being far enough ahead in the playoff race to be able to find positives when we don't win. The results overwhelm everything else."
Notes: Islanders C Mike York returned to the lineup after missing two games with concussion-like symptoms, sustained when he was struck by the elbow of Atlanta D Andy Sutton last Thursday. ... D Chris Campoli is the only New York rookie who has been with the team all season. ... The game drew a crowd of 14,286 after many seats were sold for only $10. Ticket prices were slashed by Islanders owner Charles Wang as a thank you after his proposal to refurbish Nassau Coliseum was selected by the county government over three others - including one by the owners of the New York Mets. ... This was New York's first home game since a sewage pipe burst and caused damage to the Islanders' weight room and part of their locker room while the team was on a five-game road trip. Rugs and equipment were replaced.
|Sean Bergenheim (2) ASST: Mike York (35), Denis Grebeshkov (4)|
1 - 0 NYI
|PPG - Mark Streit (2) ASST: Mike Ribeiro (29), Alex Kovalev (35)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Robert Nilsson (4) ASST: Chris Campoli (20), Mike York (36)|
2 - 1 NYI
|Jason Blake (24) ASST: Robert Nilsson (6), Radek Martinek (12)|
3 - 1 NYI
|Alex Kovalev Holding|
|John Erskine Tripping|
|Denis Grebeshkov Slashing|
|Robert Nilsson Holding|
|Chris Campoli Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Richard Zednik Tripping|
|Trent Hunter Charging|
|Alex Kovalev Roughing|
|Chris Campoli Roughing|