MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien feels some of his youngest players are providing the most leadership.
The so-called kid line of Lars Eller, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk did just that Sunday.
Eller, Galchenyuk and Gallagher combined for eight points and Carey Price made 24 saves to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders at Bell Centre.
Galchenyuk, 19, had his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists, Eller also had a goal and two assists and Gallagher had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens (9-8-1), who snapped a four-game losing streak (0-3-1).
"One thing's for sure, we're seeing that the kid line has success because they compete," Therrien said. "For me, this is leadership what they're doing."
Therrien gave that answer in response to a question about center David Desharnais, who has one assist in 17 games and was in the penalty box when Islanders forward Brock Nelson cut Montreal's lead to 3-2 at 4:10 of the third period.
"Regarding David," Therrien said, "it's tough right now."
Desharnais' mistake in taking that penalty was erased when Galchenyuk scored on a tic-tac-toe passing play from Gallagher and Eller at 10:37 of the third, with Galchenyuk grabbing the CH logo on his sweater and kissing it to celebrate. It was something that showed the exuberance of youth, and something he will be taking out of his repertoire.
"A couple of the veteran guys already gave me something about it and I don't think I'll be doing it again," Galchenyuk said with a big smile. "I just love the logo."
To show just how much he loves it, and how the admonishment from his veteran teammates wasn't serious, Galchenyuk changed his avatar on Twitter to a screen shot of his celebration a couple of hours after the game.
That picture was in stark contrast to what the Islanders (6-9-3) were feeling as they left Montreal to return home with no points off their four-game road trip against the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Canadiens. The Islanders were playing their second game in less than 24 hours with a 6 p.m. ET start in Montreal after Saturday's 5-2 loss to Columbus.
The Islanders were second in the Metropolitan Division when they left for the trip on Nov. 4 and now find themselves sixth after the New Jersey Devils passed them following their 5-0 win at home Sunday against the Nashville Predators.
"We've got to stay positive here," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We've all been in this situation before, there's too much leadership, there's too much character on this team and I thought the guys worked. We're just not getting the results right now."
Montreal native Kevin Poulin made 27 saves for the Islanders in his fifth start of the season, running his record to 1-4-0.
"I was excited [to play in Montreal]," Poulin said. "Obviously I was hoping for a win. It didn't turn out the way I imagined it."
Two special-teams streaks came to an end at the same time when Pierre-Marc Bouchard got the Islanders on the board at 7:23 of the second period. The goal snapped an 0-for-24 skid for the Islanders' power play that lasted seven games plus one period, while it also broke a 21-for-21 run for the Canadiens' penalty kill dating back to a game on Oct. 26 against the San Jose Sharks.
Brock Nelson’s third-period goal at 3:10 that made the score 3-2 also came on the power play and the Islanders finished 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
"I thought our power play did a good job," Capuano said. "We moved the puck around, we had net presence, we did some good things. We were rewarded for that."
The Islanders' penalty kill, however, continued to give the team trouble.
It came into the game having allowed six goals in 12 opportunities over the previous three games and picked up where it left off, allowing two goals on five chances to the Canadiens.
"It just seems like right now that anything anybody's doing is finding the back of the net," Capuano said. "Our coaches take a lot of pride in it, and somehow, someway we've got to fix it. It can mentally drain on you, and that's the big part. We've got to make sure that if they score a goal, we've got to forget about it."
After a scoreless first period, Gallagher got Montreal on the board at 1:46 of the second when he was able to corral a Galchenyuk feed entering the Islanders zone and beat Poulin with a low shot to the far side for his eighth goal of the season.
Bouchard tied it with his power-play goal, his third of the season on a top-corner rocket from the top of the left circle, but Eller got it back on the power play at 16:14 of the second when he one-timed Galchenyuk's feed through the slot past Poulin for his sixth goal.
Canadiens rookie Michael Bournival made it 3-1 with 55.9 seconds left in the second with Thomas Hickey still serving the second half of a double-minor penalty for high sticking, tipping home a Raphael Diaz point shot for his fifth goal of the season.
After Nelson got the Islanders within one early in the third off John Tavares' second assist of the game, Galchenyuk re-established Montreal's two-goal margin by finishing a tic-tac-toe passing play with Gallagher and Eller for his third goal of the season at 10:37.
Montreal forward Travis Moen left the game after his third shift of the second period due to a flu bug. It appears Therrien was the last to get the news.
"I called his name and he wasn't on the bench," Therrien said with a big laugh. "Nobody told me."