UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Martin told his players during the second intermission that if they were in trouble in the defensive zone to lob the puck to release the pressure.
Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban listened to his coach and did just that in the third, lobbing the puck to Jeff Halpern. He made a beautiful pass to Benoit Pouliot, who was trailing down the slot, and Pouliot wristed a shot past Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson at 7:19 to break a tie and send the Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders, much to the delight of the nearly 2,000 Habs fans who made the trip to the Nassau Coliseum for the second game of this home-and-home series.
"P.K., he had to get it out that way cause everything was on the boards," Pouliot said. "A high flip sometimes works and that's what happened and (Halpern) just got it and made a great play after that.
"I was yelling at him for while, I wanted him to pass," said Pouliot, who had attempted the same shot on an unsuccessful penalty shot on Wednesday. "I was yelling Haply, Haply and he heard me at the last minute I think when the D closed up on him and it was perfect, right in the slot."
Travis Moen added an insurance goal with 1:49 left in the game, a deflection on a Brian Gionta shot.
The second period however belonged to the Islanders. After having been outshot 13-7 in the first period, the Islanders took command, limiting the Habs to just four shots and taking 13 of their own.
"That was a tough one. The first period went great. I thought we were all over them and then the second we kind of played back and relaxed and they were all over us, so it was tough in the second," Pouliot said.
"We just had to re-focus," Gionta said. "We got away from our game. We got a little soft in our end and like I said they forecheck hard, but we weren’t moving and supporting enough."
Matt Martin tied the score at 1-1 late in the second, slipping the puck between Alex Auld's pads for his first NHL goal.
"Nice to get it out of the way," said Martin, who also fought Hal Gill in the second period. "Frans (Nielsen) made a great pass."
It was only the second game of the season for the left wing who was called up from the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday.
"That's his game. He gets in those dirty areas, plays hard, and he's a real strong guy," teammate John Tavares said. "Great to see him get his first one. He deserves it. It's a huge boost for depth in our lineup."
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring at 2:42 of the first period on the power play. The center chipped it right above Roloson in the left corner, who was caught out of position. Islanders left wing Jon Sim had been called for roughing at 2:24.
Roloson finished the night with 23 saves.
The Islanders had scored power-play goals in six-straight games prior to this matchup and scored two against the Habs on Wednesday. But on Friday they struggled against the Canadiens with the extra man. In the first period they had one shot in a combined two opportunities, struggling to get past the Canadiens' blue line.
"We probably had more zone time tonight and we didn't score," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "The other night I thought we weren't very good on the power play and we scored two goals."
And despite having a 5-on-3 chance midway through the second, as both Gill and Subban were called for interference in a 17-second span, they managed just one shot.
"That's obviously a huge point of the game," goalie Alex Auld said. "The score was tight at that point and teams can gain a lot of momentum off of that and usually if you kill it, you get momentum. We were able to get it. I don't think we gave them too much. I don't think they even had a shot and we had a couple of blocks on that 5-on-3. That was obviously a huge part of the game."
The Canadiens were partially to blame for the Islanders' lack of offense on the power play, as they continued to clear the puck and block shots. Montreal blocked 26 shots over the course of the game, the Islanders just nine.
Auld made 30 saves in his first start since March 6, 2010 for the Rangers. While not heavily taxed in the first, the goaltender made a number of big saves in the second, one on a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Matt Moulson and a great blocker save as Doug Weight tried to jam it through at the end of the period.
"I've been saying all along, I've been felling good, feeling ready," said the 29-year-old journeyman, who has been with eight teams over his nine-year career. "I knew what it would take to prepare. I've waited like this before and so that's nothing new to me. You just want obviously to play and help the team win and hopefully get enough shot."
His performance was nothing new to his coach.
"I always felt Alex was a good goaltender, I had him in Florida," Martin said. "He's capable, especially in that role, and he came in tonight and I think it showed that his teammates really appreciate the win for him."
The team will also appreciate the return of their alternate captain Andrei Markov, as he returns to the lineup tomorrow to face the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre.
"He's obviously a huge part of this team," said Auld. "I know from facing the team with him on it over the years, he really makes this power-play tick. He's a special type of player and bringing him into the lineup will be great and obviously being able to rack up the points without him is even better and then we can just keep going."