UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Radek Martinek scored the tiebreaking goal eight minutes into the third period and the New York Islanders handed Montreal its first regulation loss in nearly a month with a 6-3 victory Tuesday night.
Martinek's shot from the left point on a pass from Kyle Okposo eluded goaltender Carey Price at 7:56. It was the first goal of the season for Martinek, who hadn't scored since Oct. 12, 2011, while with Columbus. John Tavares scored his team-leading 14th goal with 1:07 left before Colin McDonald closed the scoring with an empty-netter.
Brian Gionta's power-play goal at 6:07 of the third ? the 20,000th goal for the Canadiens since the NHL was formed in 1917 ? tied the game at 3.
Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban made it 3-2 with a blast from the point with 3:11 to go in the second, his fifth of the season, after Matt Martin and Michael Grabner scored 48 seconds apart midway through the second to put the Islanders ahead 3-1.
It was the second straight home win for the Islanders, who won for only the fourth time in 13 games at Nassau Coliseum.
Montreal hadn't lost in regulation since a 6-0 defeat at home against Toronto on Feb. 9. The Canadiens surged to the top of the Eastern Conference with an 8-0-3 record since that lopsided defeat.
Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves for the Islanders. The 37-year-old goaltender, who improved to 10-7-2, has started all but four games this season.
Martin scored at 12:10 of the second, knocking in a pass from Brad Boyes for his second of the season with Montreal's Lars Eller serving a tripping penalty. Grabner added his ninth of the season at 12:58 after a shot by defenceman Thomas Hickey deflected to him in front of Price.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring at 5:21 of the first with his 10th of the season. Plekanec took a pass from Alex Galchenyuk in the left corner after Michael Ryder outmuscled Martinek in the right corner.
Matt Moulson tied it at 1:23 of the second off a pass from defenceman Mark Streit for his 11th of the season.
The Islanders have won three straight and six of their last eight games against Montreal, including 4-3 in overtime at Montreal on Feb. 21. The teams meet again at Nassau Coliseum on March 21.
It was the fifth game of a seven-game homestand for the Islanders. They will host the Rangers on Thursday before completing the homestand Saturday against Washington.
NOTES: The Islanders played without D Lubomir Visnovsky, who had to attend to a family matter . LW Moulson's games-played streak stands at 269 games. He has yet to miss a game in his Islanders career . Mike Cammalleri scored the 20,000th goal in Canadiens history on Dec. 28, 2009. The franchise also played eight seasons starting in 1909-10 in the NHL's predecessor, the National Hockey Association.