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Canadiens' three-goal third period tops Islanders

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are doing a very good job of weathering an injury to Carey Price that has sidelined their superstar goalie for a four-game homestand.

David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher scored goals 1:33 apart in the third period, and Montreal defeated the New York Islanders 4-1 at Bell Centre on Thursday. Dale Weise scored his team-leading eighth goal on a power play in the first period, and Tomas Plekanec hit the empty net with 2:03 remaining in the third.

Mike Condon made 17 saves for Montreal (12-2-1), which is 6-0-1 at home. Condon, who is 5-0-1, made his fourth consecutive start with Price sidelined because of a lower-body injury.

"He has been unbelievable all year long," Weise said of the rookie goaltender. "He looks so calm back there, he's playing the puck to our [defensemen]; it's pretty incredible for a rookie to be playing like this because this is a tough League, and the situation he's in right now, I think that just speaks volumes about his character."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time the Canadiens have won 12 of their first 15 games.

Kyle Okposo scored in the second period for New York (7-4-3), which got captain and leading scorer John Tavares back in the lineup after missing three games because of illness.

"I felt like myself," said Tavares, who played 19:46 and had five shots on goal. "I felt really good. I'm just disappointed I didn't capitalize on some of my chances. I thought I had a lot of good looks and had some good jump tonight. I have to find a way to put them in."

The Islanders are 1-2-2 in their past five games; they were 1-1-1 while Tavares was sidelined with flu-like symptoms.

"I thought [Tavares] did really well," New York coach Jack Capuano said. "You guys could see tonight around the net he had probably two or three really glorious chances to score some goals. Everything gets magnified too. We scored one goal in I don't know how many games here, so no matter how we play we're going to have to score a couple in this league to win. We've got to find a way."

Jaroslav Halak, who assisted on Okposo's tying goal in the second, made 20 saves.

"We knew it was going to be a tight game," said Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, who set up Weise's goal. "That's a team that plays their system well and we knew it was going to be a tight game and we didn't veer off from our style of play. At 1-1, we didn't change our style. It's something we said in between periods; we just needed to continue working and we knew we were going to get our chances."

A fortunate bounce off linesman Michel Cormier led to Desharnais' tie-breaking goal at 6:22 of the third.

Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu's pass off the glass up the left side struck Cormier, holding up the puck for Canadiens left wing Tomas Fleischmann, who passed around Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy's sliding attempt to block his pass and set up Desharnais for a shot past Halak into the right side of the net.

"When you're doing the right things, good things happen, so we'll take those any day of the week," Weise said. "Hometown bounce, I'm sure the linesman felt a little unfortunate there, but we'll take it. A great play by [Fleischmann] to capitalize on it."

Gallagher made it a two-goal lead at 7:55 when he deflected Max Pacioretty's shot past Halak for his sixth goal.

"It was an awful break on the winning goal, then they were able to generate a third which made it real tough," Tavares said. "We had an opportunity heading into the third and we didn't capitalize."

Plekanec sealed it for Montreal with a backhand from the blue line for his third empty-net goal.

Capuano got a visit from Cormier at the Islanders bench before play resumed after Desharnais' goal put Montreal up 2-1.

"He came over; there's nothing he can do," Capuano said. "The thing is the puck was either going to be iced or it was going to go 200 feet down. Unfortunately it hit him and it resulted in a 2-on-1 with two pretty good players and it's in the back of our net. There's nothing you can do about it. They're a pretty good team, they don't give up much. I figured going in it would be one of those games because we've played pretty well defensively too of late, and it came down to that."

Weise scored a power-play goal for a second consecutive game. His fifth goal in four games marked the 12th time Montreal has scored first in 15 games. The Canadiens are 11-1-0 when they get the first goal.

Okposo drew New York even with his fourth goal at 3:35 of the second, two seconds after a penalty to Pacioretty expired. Halak got an assist on the goal, when he left the puck for defenseman Johnny Boychuk behind the Islanders' net. Boychuk passed to Okposo, who drove the left side before cutting in to the high slot to put a wrist shot past Condon.

"We have to put that one goal behind us and try to get the next one to tie it up, but obviously they got the next one and then got the empty net," Boychuk said. "We just have to take the positives from the game, because there were positives."

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