Canadiens’ Steve Bégin is congratulated by linemate Mathieu Dandenault after having scored his second goal of tonight’s game.
Ray Stubblebine, Reuters
Click here to view a photo gallery from tonight’s game.
Maybe the change of scenery helped the Canadiens.
After a seemingly interminable stretch of seeing the same uniforms, the Habs found Uniondale, N.Y., to their liking tonight, beating the New York Islanders 4-1 on the strength of a two-goal performance by – wait for it – Steve Bégin.
The Canadiens improved their record to 12-6-3, while the Islanders dropped to 11-7-0.
Habs goalie Cristobal Huet, who made 44 saves, lost his bid for a shutout with 3:50 left in the game when he was beaten by Mike Comrie.
The ice was still wet at 56 seconds when the Canadiens got on the board, Bégin fed from behind the net by Mathieu Dandenault, who had done some good work to come up with the puck.
Bryan Smolinski earned the second assist on the goal, Bégin firing one from the faceoff circle to the right of Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro for his second goal of the season.
The Habs held a 13-12 edge in first-period shots.
Playing in his hometown, before 66 family members and friends at the Nassau Coliseum, Christopher Higgins scored his first road goal of the season and eighth of the year at 6:14 of the second on a fine individual effort, sweeping in across DiPietro’s crease and stuffing the puck over the Isles goalie. You want happy? Check out Higgins here.
Higgins had been sent away with a beautiful pass from the Canadiens end into the offensive side of centre by defenceman Roman Hamrlik, who played a game-high 25:20 and finished the night at +2, and scored with a Habs power play expired by one second.
Bégin quickly potted his second of the night just over two minutes later, bobbling on the stickhandle – he joked on RDS after the period that it was a fake – then scooping up the puck and whipping a wrister past DiIPietro, who was totally surprised by the shot.
Tomas Plekanec then made it 4-0 at 13:22, winning a power-play draw back to the point to Patrice Brisebois, then taking a perfect, lightning-quick cross-ice pass from Alex Kovalev, who’d been fed by Brisebois, to bury it past an increasingly porous DiPietro for his sixth of the season.
The Canadiens outshot their hosts 16-13 in the second for a 29-25 edge after 40 minutes.
It was an eventful night for defenceman Mike Komisarek, a Long Islander like Higgins. Komisarek was a physical presence all night long; he also had a spirited fight with Isles’ Brendan Witt midway through the second period, then drew a four-minute minor late in the period for high-sticking.
The Canadiens play the Sabres in back-to-back games this weekend: Friday in Buffalo and Saturday back at the Bell Centre.
A few pre-game statistics: