MONTREAL (AP) -The Montreal Canadiens enjoyed finally getting ahead by more than a goal so much that they just kept adding to their season-high lead.
Scott Gomez and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored in the first period to give Montreal its first two-goal lead of the season, sending the Canadiens on to a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
"We're making it hard on ourselves," Cammalleri said about the Canadiens' first multigoal advantage. "That's something - I didn't realize that until right now but that makes sense. Every game's been so tight, and it's important to try and win in tight games and find ways to win those games but at the same time you can't do that 82 times a year and then however many games in the playoffs, so it was important to get out to a little bit of a lead and hang on to one tonight."
Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves in his second straight start after helping the Canadiens stop a five-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 2-1 shootout win over Atlanta.
Montreal coach Jacques Martin now faces a tough call for Saturday night's game against the New York Rangers. Does he go with the hot hand in Halak, or turn back to No. 1 goalie Carey Price, who is 2-4 in six starts with a 3.36 goals-against-average and a .886 save percentage?
"Well, when it comes to goalies I usually wait until the night before to sleep on it," Martin said. "I get my bright ideas then."
Halak lost his shutout bid 54 seconds into the third when he misplayed a dump-in behind his net that led directly to Josh Bailey's short-handed goal.
"After the game I went to give him a hug and he said, 'I don't like shutouts,"' Cammalleri said. "And I said, 'Well, you better like shutouts!' But he played great when we needed him tonight, made some solid saves, and we'll let that one go."
Bailey drew New York to 3-1 after he easily stripped the puck from Halak and came out front to slide a backhand into the gaping net while the Slovak goalie made a desperate lunge to get back in position.
Martin Biron stopped 38 shots for the Islanders (1-4-3), who claimed their first win of the season one night earlier when John Tavares scored the deciding goal in a 4-3 shootout win over Carolina.
"We were a pretty easy team to play against," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "Defensively we were on our heels because of all our turnovers and it wasn't just in one area, it was coming out of our zone, it was situations where we had full control of the puck and we're not making plays. It's probably the worst that I've ever seen it tonight and it's something that we've got to get better at."
Montreal held a 43-22 advantage in shots, including a 15-7 margin in the first, and 15-5 in the second.
"They were definitely ready to play," Islanders defenseman Andy Sutton said. "They were really hungry and they gave us way more than we could handle early on, but we compounded things and made things a lot harder for ourselves in the process."
Bergeron and Cammalleri connected on the power play as the Canadiens went 2-for-6, the first time Montreal has scored more than once with the man advantage since a season-opening 4-3 overtime win in Toronto on Oct. 1.
Including the last four games of last season, the Canadiens hadn't won in regulation since a 6-2 win in Toronto on Apr. 4. Montreal also lost four straight to Boston in the first round of the playoffs.
Gomez scored his second goal 7:55 in when he snapped a shot into the top left corner from the slot after the puck dropped behind Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek, who failed to glove a puck flipped from the blue line by Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek.
Glen Metropolit had two assists in his return to the Canadiens' lineup after missing six games because of a rib injury. Montreal went 1-6 during his absence.
"I missed them, too," Metropolit said. "It's fun to be back on our bench and getting into battles with the guys. They've been working hard - some tough luck. It's good, hopefully we can keep the ball rolling here."
The veteran center played a big role in giving Montreal a 2-0 lead with 1:24 left in the opening period.
Metropolit fed the puck back to Paul Mara at the left point after Tomas Plekanec won a faceoff on the left side of the Islanders' zone. Mara passed across to Bergeron, who drove a low slap shot inside the right post for his first goal in two games with the Canadiens.
"It's pretty unbelievable," said Bergeron, a Quebec native who was called up from Hamilton of the AHL on Sunday after signing a one-year contract with Montreal on Oct. 6. "Obviously I heard the fans cheering and it made me proud. It's a fun city to play in so it's very exciting, even more when your team wins."
Pacioretty made it a 3-0 lead with his first of the season 3:34 into the second.
Cammalleri restored the Canadiens' three-goal lead with their second power-play goal midway through the third. Lapierre added his first at 12:59 when he slapped home a loose puck in the crease.
NOTES: Bergeron played 69 games with the Islanders over parts of two seasons from 2007-08. He had 14 goals - including seven on the power play - and 32 points with Minnesota last season. ... Canadiens G Carey Price sat for the second straight game. Price, whose next appearance will be his 100th career game, ... Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque wasn't in uniform for the first time this season. Laraque has one assist and five penalty minutes in eight games.
|Scott Gomez (2) ASST: Jaroslav Spacek (3)|
1 - 0 MTL
|PPG - Marc-Andre Bergeron (1) ASST: Paul Mara (5), Glen Metropolit (2)|
2 - 0 MTL
|Max Pacioretty (1) ASST: Glen Metropolit (3)|
3 - 0 MTL
|SHG - Josh Bailey (1) ASST: NONE|
3 - 1 MTL
|PPG - Mike Cammalleri (2) ASST: Tomas Plekanec (5), Marc-Andre Bergeron (1)|
4 - 1 MTL
|Maxim Lapierre (1) ASST: Andrei Kostitsyn (3), Tomas Plekanec (6)|
5 - 1 MTL
|Matt Moulson Too many men/ice - bench|
|Hal Gill Holding against John Tavares|
|Freddy Meyer Holding against Mike Cammalleri|
|Kyle Chipchura Fighting (maj) against Nate Thompson|
|Nate Thompson Roughing against Kyle Chipchura|
|Nate Thompson Fighting (maj) against Kyle Chipchura|
|Brendan Witt Interference against Maxim Lapierre|
|Frans Nielsen Too many men/ice - bench|
|Andrei Kostitsyn Tripping against Radek Martinek|
|Kyle Okposo Hi-sticking against Hal Gill|
|Jaroslav Spacek Interference against Sean Bergenheim|