MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens wanted to jump out to a quick start on Saturday, and that's exactly what they did? three times.
The Canadiens, not known for their quick starts to games, scored early in all three periods of their 6-4 victory over the visiting New York Islanders on Saturday.
P.K. Subban scored 1:56 into the first, Dale Weise doubled the Habs' lead 10 seconds into the second, and Alex Galchenyuk scored 52 seconds into the third en route to Montreal's fifth victory against the Islanders in the teams' last six encounters.
"It's no surprise that we're not a good starting team," said Weise, whose tap-in goal in the second equalled his career high in points (16) set last season. "For whatever reason that is, we wanted to focus on that tonight. Every start to every period, we came out and we pushed the tempo.
"I don't know what it was. We were just really focused tonight. We wanted to send a message to the league that this is a tough place to play."
Montreal (28-13-3) is ranked 29th in the NHL for first-period productivity, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres. The Habs have scored a paltry 18 first-period goals in 44 games this season.
Against the Islanders on Saturday, though, Montreal wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, tallying the first goal of the game on the home team's second shot on goaltender Jaroslav Halak. With forward Ryan Strome in the box for tripping, Andrei Markov faked a slap shot from the point before feeding Subban, whose one-timer blew by the former Hab in net.
Weise put the Habs up 2-0 right off the opening faceoff in the second. Tomas Plekanec stole the puck from Isles captain John Tavares, who was caught flat-footed on the play, before feeding a streaking Weise in front of goal. The point was Plekanec's first of four on the night.
"We got a good start??? right away we scored on the power play," said Plekanec, who scored twice and added two assists. "Second period, same thing, we got a goal right off the first shift, so that's huge to build confidence."
In the third, Alex Galchenyuk gave the Canadiens a 4-2 lead after jumping on a loose puck at the side of the net, to Halak's left.
"It just shows that we were ready to play tonight," said Dustin Tokarski, who got the start in net in place of the injured Carey Price. "If guys can come out of the periods and we can go up early like that, it's huge. It gets the crowd into it, for sure."
Tokarski made 27 saves on 31 shots for his fifth victory of the season after losing to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
"The difference tonight was that I made a few saves early on," said Tokarski. "Sometimes your goalie has to be there early on to make a couple of saves. In Ottawa, they got a quick one, but tonight I made a save or two to help swing momentum."
Price suffered an upper-body injury in Montreal's victory over the Blue Jackets on Wednesday in Columbus. Head coach Michel Therrien said Price's injury, sustained when forward Matt Calvert crashed into the Canadiens netminder, was not serious, though he offered no timetable for his return.
As a result, the Canadiens recalled goaltender Joey MacDonald from the Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal's AHL affiliate, on Friday.
The Islanders (30-14-1), meanwhile, gave Halak the start between the pipes on back-to-back nights for the second time this season. Halak made 21 saves in New York's 6-3 come-from-behind win versus the Penguins on Friday.
The Czech Republic native came into this one with a perfect four wins in four games against his former club while conceding a total four goals.
But it was an uphill battle for Halak on Saturday, with Jack Capuano's men getting into penalty trouble early for the second straight game. The Islanders rank 27th in the league on the penalty kill, and it showed just two minutes into the contest when Subban notched his 10th of the year.
Halak, who stopped 27-of-33 shots in defeat, was pulled and replaced by Chad Johnson after Montreal's sixth goal.
"I'm sure he's frustrated," said Capuano of his starting goaltender. "It's not the outcome that he wanted. But we didn't play very well in front of him."
New York, which had its four-game win streak halted, conceded six goals for the third time this season. The Islanders were also outshot for the first time in 16 games.
Capuano thought the win in Pittsburgh on Friday took a lot out of his players.
"I'm not going to use this as an excuse, but that's their third game in four nights" he said. "We've played a lot of hockey. And when you play a lot of hockey, the best thing you can do is simplify your game, and we did not simplify our game tonight."
After Kyle Okposo cut the deficit to one with his fifth goal in his last two games, Plekanec scored Montreal's second on the power play to go up 3-1 at 14:16 of the second period. The Habs finished 2-for-4 with the man advantage.
Galchenyuk made it 4-2 early in the third. Then, David Desharnais and Plekanec scored two quick goals to give Montreal a four-goal lead with six minutes to play.
The Islanders' Anders Lee and Tavares then scored three minutes apart, but that's as close as New York would get.
Montreal had scored just seven goals in its previous four games before putting six past Halak.
"It's fun to play those games," said Weise. "We're tough to handle, we're a tough team. When we have all four lines rolling, when our power play is going, there aren't many teams that can play with us. Every line had some chemistry."
Notes: After arriving late in Montreal after Friday's win against Pittsburgh, the Islanders cancelled their Bell Centre skate on Saturday morning. ????????? The Habs play nine of their next 11 games at the Bell Centre. ????????? The Isles' 30 wins lead the NHL (tied with the Nashville Predators). ????????? Max Pacioretty's six-game goal streak was snapped.