It’s never good when a team falls behind 3-0, as the Habs did in the second period in Long Island.
And yes it’s good when they begin to scratch and claw and come close, as they did when it became 3-2 and 4-3 Islanders leads. But in the end, it’s not good at all that the Canadiens lose and fail to gain ground in their bid to climb up another rung of the standings ladder.
The Islanders, to their credit, played well, they buried their chances, and even when Montreal put pressure on in the third period and had us on the edge of our seats, New York still managed to outshoot the Canadiens 13-8.
It seemed like it might be one of those nights even from the beginning. Early on, the Islanders hit the post with Montreal on the power play, and not long after rang one off the crossbar. In fact, in the first seven minutes, New York had about five breathtaking chances, and Montreal, especially the young defence, just couldn’t tighten it up as John Tavares and company were allowed often to move in open spaces in Montreal’s end.
But the Habs were in it anyway, until one play in particular.
I hate to lay any blame on Peter Budaj, who was in nets on this night, and who has looked to be a solid backup so far this season. But the ball got rolling for the other team when Badaj, in playing a puck coming around the boards behind his net, was way too nonchalant in handling it, the puck came off his stick to an Islander in front, and it was the beginning of New York’s three-goal lead.
The loss isn’t Budaj’s fault, even though he was slightly weak on a couple. All I’m saying is, he wasn’t sharp on handling this puck and the Habs played catch up after that. Often, one play will dictate a game, and the first goal was a killer.
There were a couple of good things in this loss. Montreal’s third goal, by Brian Gionta, was a power play marker, and that’s two odd-man advantage markers in two games now. Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole, the team’s most dangerous duo, also scored, and Lars Eller had another assist, which he greatly needed as he only has five points.
Scott Gomez remains one point ahead of Carey Price in the Price/Gomez Prez Cup point race.
Shots on goal – Islanders 33, Habs 29
Mathieu Darche has just one point so far. Yes, I know he’s important in his own way, but for me that’s not good enough. He’s not been dangerous and we need the odd point from this plumber.
Saturday it’s back to the friendly confines of the Bell Centre to meet and greet the New York Rangers. For the 20th time this year, I’m saying we need this game badly.