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Canadiens’ Tomas Plekanec heads up ice on a 2-on-1 break with defenceman Andrei Markov. Plekanec scored on the rush.
Mike Stobe NHLI via Getty Images
One state, two games in four nights – and two very different efforts. Different results, too.
The Canadiens rebounded from Saturday’s dismal 4-1 loss in Manhattan against the New York Rangers with a considerably stronger performance tonight, defeating the New York Islanders 3-1 in Uniondale.
Centreman Tomas Plekanec scored two of Montreal’s goals, his 15th and 16th of the season, one coming at even strength, the second shorthanded. Alex Kovalev iced it with his 20th, an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet stopped 17 of the 18 shots sent his way, losing his shutout midway through the third period. Montreal managed 21 on Rick DiPietro and one more into his vacated net.
Plekanec used a nifty fake to open the scoring for the Canadiens, winding up then sweeping wide of New York defenceman Bruno Gervais before drilling a shot from the faceoff circle past DiPietro at 13:49 of a less-than-scintillating first period.
Montreal outshot the Islanders 9-1 through the first 20 minutes, Huet tested by Islander Josef Vasicek’s 25-footer at 4:19, then not again until nearly 21/2 minutes into the second.
Plekanec made it 2-0 at 5:35 of the second period, while shorthanded with Sergei Kostitsyn serving a hooking minor. A good, point-blank save by Huet on Miroslav Satan ultimately led to a 2-on-1 break for Plekanec and defenceman Andrei Markov. Fed by Alex Kovalev, Plekanec used Markov as a decoy before whipping home his second of the night from about 35 feet. It was the ninth goal the Isles have yielded this season with the man advantage.
Huet had considerably more work in the second period, making a number of big saves as the Islanders held a 9-5 edge in shots (14-10 for Montreal through two).
The goalie lost his bid for his first shutout of the season when his own clearing attempt was intercepted at the blue line by Bill Guerin. The Islander’s shot toward the Montreal goal was tipped in from the edge of Huet’s crease by Richard Park at 10:56.
Montreal came into the match with a 22-14-8 record and having played mostly excellent hockey over the past month, scoring 51 goals in 14 games which yielded an 8-3-3 record. They were 5-1-2 in their last eight games.
The Canadiens’ four-game road trip winds up Thursday night in Atlanta vs. the Thrashers. Montreal returns to home ice on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.