BROOKLYN -- A night before heading to the All-Star game, Carey Price nearly put forth another All-Star effort in Brooklyn.
Despite being outshot 42-22, the 29-year-old netminder kept the Canadiens in it until late in the third, turning aside 39 tries on goal before ultimately falling 3-1 in regulation.
Video: MTL@NYI: Price cradles Tavares' backhand shot in 1st
"We fell a bit flat at times, but [the Islanders] played very well," admitted Price, who faced 14 shots in the first period alone. "They played with a lot of speed and they made it hard for us to come up the ice. They executed their game plan perfectly."
Fellow All-Star Shea Weber eventually tied things up on a second-period power play, but that was all the scoring the Habs would get.
Video: MTL@NYI: Weber equalizes with PPG on powerful slapper
"Obviously giving up all those shots is unacceptable, so in a sense we let [Carey] down, but overall we just let ourselves down," acknowledged Nathan Beaulieu, who was second among his teammates behind Weber with 24:30 of ice time. "It sucks that we put Pricey in that position -- he's our rock so it's unfortunate -- but we've been known to bounce back, and now we'll have some time to think about it."
A WELCOME BREAK
Indeed, the Canadiens will now have four days to rest up before embarking on the second half of the season and beyond as the NHL hosts its annual All-Star festivities this weekend in Los Angeles.
"It's going to be huge for us. You can look at how many games we've played this year already and how condensed the season is with back-to-backs and everything," underlined Andrew Shaw, who picked up an assist on Weber's equalizer. "It'll be nice to get a few days rest, recuperate, reenergize, and then come back out of the break strong."
More than just a mental break, the Habs' injured contingent -- Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais, Greg Pateryn, and Andrei Markov -- will also benefit from a string of days off without missing any additional games.
And if time heals all wounds, then the Canadiens may receive some good news on Monday, after Michel Therrien hinted postgame that Markov might return to practice with his teammates next week.
HELP IS ON THE WAY
While waiting for the Russian rearguard to return however, Marc Bergevin bolstered the blue line with his first trade of the season on Thursday, sending Jonathan Racine and a sixth-round draft pick to Tampa in exchange for Nikita Nesterov just prior to puck drop.
"Even though he's only 23, he's already played 26 playoff games. He has a ton of experience," explained Bergevin before flying back to Montreal postgame. "You can never have too many defensemen. Depth always comes in handy."
A 148th overall pick from 2011, Nesterov made his NHL debut in 2014-15 -- the year the Lightning made it all the way to the Finals.
"I remember he played very well against us in the playoffs two years ago. He's a young guy who can move the puck and has a good shot," continued Bergevin, who began work on the trade just before Christmas. "We began talking around a month and a half ago. Things stalled for a bit afterwards, but then picked up again two or three days ago."