No one could sum up the Islanders 3-1 loss to the Canadiens at the Coliseum tonight better than Islanders head coach Scott Gordon.
“We probably played a game tonight that I don’t think the score reflects the end result.”
Dominating the offensive zone for the second and third periods would not be enough to stop the streaking Canadiens, who jumped out to an early lead on Tomas Plekanec’s power play goal with just 2:42 elapsed in the first period. Jon Sim went to the box at 2:24 for roughing.
A lackluster Islanders’ first was highlighted by two solid hits from Matt Martin
on Hal Gill and two of James Wisniewski’s famous blue line blasts. But the Habs were rolling after their first goal and they outshot the Islanders 12-7.
It was a different Islanders team that came out to play the second; they were faster and smarter and they dominated the Canadiens in the offensive zone. They held the Habs to just four shots while taking 13.
When Martin’s first NHL goal tied the score at 16:45, it appeared the Islanders “Never Say Die” style of play was in full effect.
Martin found himself parked in front of the goal, and Frans Nielsen
after working against Jaroslav Spacek behind the net, put the puck right in front where Martin was able to bury it past Alex Auld. The goal was no doubt a relief to Martin who was recalled from Bridgeport on Monday.
“I didn’t get one last year and it kind of weighing on your head a little bit to get that first one away,” Martin said. “Frans Nielsen
made a great pass and I could probably put that in a million times over.”
It was Martin’s play that dominated the Islanders story line. Aside from the milestone goal, he also fought Hal Gill, fulfilling two of the three elements of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
“Kind of got mixed up with Kostitsyn a little bit. He (Gill) came over and the rest is history, but I was just trying to spark something.”
Martin’s play indeed proved a bit of a fire starter for the Islanders, and his play most certainly turned the heads of many.
“I didn’t get one last year and it kind of weighing on your head a little bit to get that first one away. Frans Nielsen made a great pass and I could probably put that in a million times over.” - Matt Martin - on his first NHL goal.
A key to the second period domination by the Isles, was a 5-on-3 for 1:43. With Hal Gill in the box for interference and P.K. Subban following him in for interference on John Tavares
“Obviously on the 5-on-3 we got some good looks, but we didn’t take shots on them,” Gordon said. “(There were) Shots that got to the net, but we didn’t cash in. We moved the puck pretty good up until the end.”
This was a fairly surprising as the power play has been the Islanders calling card for scoring success so far this season. It was held scoreless (0-for-3) for only the second time this season.
“You know on the power play, we probably had more zone time tonight and we didn’t score,” Gordon said. “The other night I thought we weren’t very good on the power play and we scored two goals. You do the best you can to try to create the shots, when you have the shots.”
The Islanders offensive zone domination continued into the third period, but the Canadiens defense and Auld fought the Islanders chances off. Auld, in his first game of the season, made 25 saves.
"I thought we did a tremendous job tonight of creating confusion for Montreal in their defensive zone" Gordon said. "We had guys moving and rotating throughout the zone. Especially in the second period they didn’t know where their hand was and unfortunately we didn’t cash in."
The Canadiens took the lead for good on Benoit Pouliot’s goal at 7:19 in the third. At 18:11 Travis Moen provided the final margin.
The Islanders outshot the Habs 31-46.
Tomorrow night, the Islanders take on Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Injury update: Milan Jurcina
(hamstring) is out tomorrow night in Philly. He will be reevaluated on Monday.