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MTL@NYI: Tough start, terrific finish

The Canadiens left the Barclays Center with two big points in the bank on Monday night after staging an impressive comeback

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

BROOKLYN - Antti Niemi wasn't about to let a tough first period get the best of him and the rest of the Habs on Monday night.

After surrendering three goals on eight shots through 20 minutes of play, the 35-year-old Finnish goaltender was unbeatable the rest of the way - including on five shootout attempts - as the Canadiens rallied for a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center.

In doing so, Claude Julien's troops snapped the Islanders five-game winning streak and got their road trip in the Empire State started on a high note.

"I think that shows something, that we were able to stick with it, work hard and we were able to come back," said Niemi, referencing the Canadiens' effort to erase a two-goal deficit before going on to pick up the additional point after Joel Armia beat Thomas Greiss with a picture-perfect shootout tally. "That shows just how good we actually are and how good we can be. If we can just trust that, and trust that if we do the right things, we can do this."

Video: Antti Niemi on his performance against the Islanders

Niemi was particularly stellar during the middle frame when the Islanders could have easily extended their lead even further, but the veteran goaltender rose to the occasion and kept the Canadiens within striking distance.

His save on Mathew Barzal really was a thing of beauty.

Video: MTL@NYI: Niemi robs Barzal with sliding pad save

As was his stop on Anthony Beauvillier as well.

Video: MTL@NYI: Niemi kicks out Beauvillier's breakaway bid

Needless to say, Niemi's teammates were impressed with his performance.

"He was our best player tonight," praised Max Domi. "He deserves every bit of credit. He's the hardest working guy every single day he comes to practice. Unbelievable guy off the ice, too. I'm really happy for him."

Max just keeps on rolling

Speaking of Domi, he lit the lamp for a third straight game on Monday night and also collected an assist on Jonathan Drouin's strike as well.

It was his fourth multi-point effort of the year, and Domi now leads the Canadiens with 15 points (8g - 7a) in 14 games so far this season.

Video: MTL@NYI: Drouin beats Greiss with perfect shot

As per usual, the 23-year-old centerman wouldn't address his own success postgame, focusing instead on the group's solid body of work.

"We're a resilient group and we know what it takes to win now. It's fun. Winning's great," mentioned Domi. "But, when you come back from behind like that in someone else's arena, it's even better."

Video: MTL@NYI: Domi wires PPG past Greiss from the circle

Quite a night for the Finns

Not only were Niemi and Armia key to the Canadiens' coming out on top, their fellow countrymen - Artturi Lehkonen and Jesperi Kotkaniemi - were clutch, too.

Lehkonen scored the game-tying goal at the 7:43 mark of the third period. That ultimately sent the contest to overtime.

Video: MTL@NYI: Lehkonen tips home game-tying goal

It also snapped a 12-game goal drought for Lehkonen, who hadn't found the back of the net since October 3 in Toronto when he scored the first goal of a brand new NHL season.

Kotkaniemi collected the secondary helper on the play.

As for Armia's shootout winner, the 25-year-old Pori native admitted to having a strategy in mind from the start. 

"I think I knew what I was doing before I went out there," said Armia, who made good on the first shootout attempt of his NHL career. "Good thing it worked."

Video: MTL@NYI: Armia wins the shootout for the Canadiens

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