Thomas Greiss gave the New York Islanders a chance to win on Wednesday night, but a late power-play goal proved to be the difference in a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on the Grant Thornton Ice Rink at Barclays Center.
Greiss (26 saves) buoyed the Islanders through the first half of Wednesday's game, keeping the score close enough for John Tavares and Dennis Seidenberg to get them into a 2-2 down the stretch. But even on one of his better nights, Greiss couldn't fend off a one-timer from the hardest shot in the NHL - Shea Weber.
"I thought he was excellent," head coach Jack Capuano said. "He kept us in the game especially when we were real sloppy in our execution level in the first period and a half or two."
Video: MTL@NYI: Greiss denies Galchenyuk with his blocker
The number of shots weren't what was noteworthy about Greiss' performance, but rather their difficulty level. The Canadiens had a bevy of top-tier chances on Wednesday night and Greiss had to be sharp early, starting with a blocker save on an Alex Galchenyuk wrister in the first period, all the way through a breakaway save on Andrew Shaw in a tie game in the third.
There were a couple blemishes on his night, starting with Paul Byron's goal at 3:10 of the second period, a rebound off a Brendan Gallagher shot. That was the lone mark on what was otherwise a big period for Greiss, but one the Islanders admitted to wanting back.
"The second period was probably our worst period of the season," said Tavares, whose shot through a screen on the power play put the Islanders on the board at 15:17. "We responded with a better effort in the third and gave ourselves a chance and we just didn't get it done."
Video: MTL@NYI: Tavares jumps on a rebound, scores PPG
Capuano shuffled his lines in the third, which seemed to spark the Islanders, but Montreal took another lead, as Phillip Danault made it 2-1 at 11:21 of the third, knocking a Weber rebound past Greiss.
The Islanders kept pressing, with Johnny Boychuk - who had a team-high seven shots - teeing off slappers after the Danault goal. They got the tying goal from their blue line, but it wasn't Boychuk, as Dennis Seidenberg one-timed his second of the season past Montoya at 14:16.
Video: MTL@NYI: Seidenberg rips one-timer, ties game in 3rd
But the tie game was not to last. Montreal took advantage of their lone power play, looking for and finding Weber's one-timer with 2:57 to play. The Islanders took one last swing in the dying minutes, but ultimately fell to the league's last undefeated team.
"We took a penalty off a turnover and they capitalized late when they needed their power play," Capuano said. "That's what power plays do."
The Islanders are in action again on Thursday night, as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.