Full credit to the New York Islanders for their win last night. Did the Habs give them a hell of a hand in coming back? Yes, but the Islanders played one of the worst first periods I've ever seen, and they didn't fold.
Evgeni Nabokov was excellent, which is something Isles fans haven't seen a lot this season according to our friends at Lighthouse Hockey. The Habs probably could have been up 4-0 after the first, and maybe an even bigger lead after 40, but Nabokov just kept flashing the glove and taking away sure goals. He even notched an assist on the game tying goal by Frans Nielson.
His biggest save of the night wasn't really a great effort, but a shot that Max Pacioretty couldn't fully get off in the third period after the Islanders had tied the game. It would have been a hat trick for Pacioretty if he was able to connect, but them's the breaks.
I covered most of the negatives of the game last night, so let's go over the positives.
Pacioretty now has 4 goals in his last 3 games, which of course, being Pacioretty, come after sustaining an injury that should have kept him out of game action. Max now has 13 points in 13 games, which ties him with Tomas Plekanec for the team lead, although he's played 4 fewer games than Pleks.
Pacioretty's hot streak has had an extremely positive effect on David Desharnais, who is now on a 4 game point streak with 1 goal and 4 assists over that time. Desharnais had his best game of the year last night, and it's a bit of a shame it was wasted.
The play of those two seems to also have awakened Erik Cole, who was absolutely flying last night. Unfortunately for Cole, the Islanders were hooking the crap out of him all game and he couldn't buy a call, and it limited his effectiveness. Cole is on a 9 game pointless streak after last night, but he's been better in the latter half of that pointless streak than he was in the first 7 games of the season when he got all his points. The goals are going to come soon for him.
It's very visible over the last few games that Alex Galchenyuk has taken a step forward, is it a coincidence that it's happened at the same time that he's been moved to the wing of Lars Eller? I would really like to see them stay together when Brendan Gallagher is ready to return, and move Brandon Prust down to the 4th line. A Galchenyuk - Eller - Gallagher line could dominate possession and create a lot of offense.
Who on the 4th line would move out? Prust can play left wing or center, so he could replace Ryan White or Travis Moen, while White can play center or right wing, so he could push Colby Armstrong out, so it could really be anyone.
Personally I think that White is a better center than Prust is, so it would have to be one of the wingers, which logically makes it Moen, who scored last night. This is a good problem to have, but it'll be interesting to see how Therrien handles it.
Gallagher has resumed skating and there's some speculation that he could play as soon as Saturday against the Rangers.
I was talking to a friend after the game, and we agreed that if the Canadiens were going to lose a game, this was a good one to lose. The Habs needed a bit of a wakeup call with some glaring errors being covered up with a 5 game winning streak, mainly the poor usage of Subban, and it's likely a good thing they got it before they face the Rangers on Saturday, who are tougher than the Islanders.
Here's hoping that Therrien and company learn from this frustrating loss and improve going forward.
Reaction from the winning side at Lighthouse Hockey.