UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Radek Martinek scored the tiebreaking goal eight minutes into the third period and the New York Islanders handed Montreal its first regulation loss in nearly a month with a 6-3 victory Tuesday night.
Martinek's shot from the left point on a pass from Kyle Okposo eluded goaltender Carey Price at 7:56. It was the first goal of the season for Martinek, who hadn't scored since Oct. 12, 2011, while with Columbus. John Tavares scored his team-leading 14th goal with 1:07 left before Colin McDonald closed the scoring with an empty-netter.
Brian Gionta's power-play goal at 6:07 of the third — the 20,000th goal for the Canadiens since the NHL was formed in 1917 — tied the game at 3.
Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban made it 3-2 with a blast from the point with 3:11 to go in the second, his fifth of the season, after Matt Martin and Michael Grabner scored 48 seconds apart midway through the second to put the Islanders ahead 3-1.
It was the second straight home win for the Islanders, who won for only the fourth time in 13 games at Nassau Coliseum.
Montreal hadn't lost in regulation since a 6-0 defeat at home against Toronto on Feb. 9. The Canadiens surged to the top of the Eastern Conference with an 8-0-3 record since that lopsided defeat.
Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for the Islanders. The 37-year-old goaltender, who improved to 10-7-2, has started all but four games this season.
Martin scored at 12:10 of the second, knocking in a pass from Brad Boyes for his second of the season with Montreal's Lars Eller serving a tripping penalty. Grabner added his ninth of the season at 12:58 after a shot by defenceman Thomas Hickey deflected to him in front of Price.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring at 5:21 of the first with his 10th of the season. Plekanec took a pass from Alex Galchenyuk in the left corner after Michael Ryder outmuscled Martinek in the right corner.
The Islanders have won three straight and six of their last eight games against Montreal, including 4-3 in overtime at Montreal on Feb. 21. The teams meet again at Nassau Coliseum on March 21.
It was the fifth game of a seven-game homestand for the Islanders. They will host the Rangers on Thursday before completing the homestand Saturday against Washington.
NOTES: The Islanders played without D Lubomir Visnovsky, who had to attend to a family matter . LW Moulson's games-played streak stands at 269 games. He has yet to miss a game in his Islanders career . Mike Cammalleri scored the 20,000th goal in Canadiens history on Dec. 28, 2009. The franchise also played eight seasons starting in 1909-10 in the NHL's predecessor, the National Hockey Association.