Andrei Markov hadn’t played in an NHL game since the opening night of the season, but he showed what a difference maker he could be in his return to action Saturday night. Markov scored two power play goals while goalie Jaroslav Halak made 40 saves as the Montreal Canadiens earned a 3-0 road victory over the New York Islanders.
Special teams were the key with Montreal scoring all three goals on the power play. The Canadiens were 3-for-5 with the man advantage while New York was 0-for-5.
“Obviously. they were real ahead of us in special teams,” Islanders coach
Scott Gordon admitted. “It’s not so much bad penalties as much as it was execution of
power play and penalty kill. Right now everything is going against us.”
“We need to tweak things to make our power play and penalty killing a
momentum-builder, as it should be,” Isles’ goalie Martin Biron said.
Markov broke the ice at the 7:44 mark of the opening period when he put home the rebound of a shot by Tomas Plekanec off a scramble in front of the goal. The initial shot slipped through Biron’s pads which led to the scramble for the rebound.
The second power play goal came late in the second period. With Mark Streit in the penalty box for slashing, Markov added to the Montreal lead. Isles’ penalty killer Nate Thompson was injured blocking a shot which gave the Habs an additional advantage. Markov lifted a high slap shot off the shoulder of Biron and into the net.
“Right now everything is going against us,” Gordon said. “We got a great blocked shot by Nate Thompson, and next thing you know its in the back of our net. Theres a guy sacrificing himself, and the reward is a goal against.”
Meanwhile, Canadiens’ Coach Jacques Martin was pleased to have his best defenseman back in the lineup. “He’s an All-Star defenseman that has great vision and moves the puck
well,” Martin said. “It’s nice to get a top player back. Those guys are hard
to replace. His execution was really outstanding.”
The Isles’ best chance to get back into the game came in the opening minute of the third period when Travis Moen was given a four minute high sticking penalty. The Islanders had several quality scoring chances on the power play and managed six shots on goal but Halak kept them off the board.
“I wasn’t giving up many rebounds tonight,” Halak said. “We were great on
the penalty killing blocking the shots. That helped a lot.”
The Canadiens blocked 24 shots on the game, led by Hal Gill’s five.
Glen Metropolit added the final goal of the game off a one-timer from Scott Gomez with six minutes left in the third period.
The win ended a five-game losing streak for Montreal who is beginning a seven-game road trip. Their next game will be Monday night in Atlanta against the Thrashers. The Islanders return to action Monday night when they host the Lightning.
Bruno Gervais returned to the Islanders lineup while Freddy Meyer was a healthy scratch along with Jeff Tambellini. Sean Bergenheim remained out with a rib injury.
A blizzard hit Long Island which helped limit attendance to 7,842. A group of Canadiens’ fans made the trip down to Long Island for the game which meant there were roughly an equal number of fans rooting for each club.
Biron has not won since November 13 which includes his last six starts.