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Canadiens vs Islanders Top Six Minutes: The perk of leading early

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In a game that featured the return of Carey Price, the Habs established an early lead against the Isles and saw it through with a solid effort.

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

Pregame

  • Carey Price is back tonight. Habs fans are relieved, as Mike Condon - stalwart that he was at first - has been shaky lately and the team has lost three of its last four. Habs fans are ravenous for the return of their icon, and heaping helpings of Carey are on the menu. The familiar Jaroslav Halak guards the Islanders net.
  • The puck luck hasn't favoured the Canadiens of late, although the team has continued piling the shots on opponents. Therrien addresses this when being interviewed by Sportsnet's John Bartlett prior to the game. "The starts of the games are good. It's the results of the [games] that aren't good." I'm not sure if I agree with him. Allowing early three goal leads twice in a week makes it difficult.
  • I wrote in the Vancouver game recap that I thought Alex Semin would be finished with the Habs after that game. An injury to Torrey Mitchell has changed the Russian forward's fortunes. If he has a good game, does he stick?

First Period

  • Looking for a better start? Semin - yeah, that guy - makes a crazy good pass, Flynn botches the attempt and Petry slams in the rebound. Early lead? Check. Semin point? Check.
  • As the teams trade chances, it's clear the Isles are having a pretty easy time gaining the Canadiens' blue line. That Tavares guy seems especially good at it.
  • Tavares walks Plekanec back just inside the blueline, and then puts a high wrister into Carey Price. It drops and Brock Nelson finds it and puts it behind him. 1-1.
  • Therrien challenges. Replays show contact by Nelson. It's clear he initiates contact from outside the crease, and it will be surprising if that's not overturned.
  • It's not overturned. You could make the argument that the contact did not directly lead to the goal, but it's a player making contact with the goaltender on a scoring play.
  • The Habs come out filled with righteous anger. Fleischmann to Desharnais, who dishes it back to Flash for a snipe. 2-1 good guys.
  • Subban takes a penalty on Tavares. I'm not saying he had to, but Tavares doesn't leave you with many other options. He gains the line so quickly and easily that even an all-star like Subban has to take liberties to stop him.
  • Beaulieu fits into the rush beautifully, taking a feed from Galchenyuk and lifting it past Halak. 3-1 Habs.

Second Period

  • Greiss starts for the Islanders to begin the second.
  • Travis Hamonic, an all-around good guy that I now hate, scores for the Islanders. 3-2.
  • I think if he's in full form, Price has that one. He was playing a little deeper than he normally would, having fallen in a scramble prior to the puck finding its way back out to the point.
  • Looks like Therrien's got the blender going halfway through the game. Gallagher appears to be out there with Eller and Galchenyuk, which could be a very welcome combination. On the other hand, Smith-Pelly is out with Pacioretty and Plekanec. So.
  • I'd like to see Therrien try Semin on the top line. It might be wishful thinking, but you have to think with the defensively responsible duo of Patches and Plekanec, Semin would be a safe bet.
  • Jeff Petry fires a funky one that finds its way through traffic towards the end of a PP. Petry's second of the night makes it 4-2 Habs.
  • Carey Price blocks a good chance by Nick Leddy as the period winds down. It's 4-2 heading into the intermission, with the shots favouring the Sighlanders 25-22.
  • The intermission graphic highlights Petry and Hamonic. If Hamonic goes to the Oilers, does he get buried like Petry? He seems like a level-headed guy. Let's hope he has the sense not to go there.

Third Period

  • Leddy flies through the D for a partial break on Price, who deflects it along with any criticism that he's rusty.
  • He's been quiet this game - and for most of the last few seasons - but is there an ex-Hab more detestable than Mikhail Grabovski? Discuss.
  • The Isles don't want to let this one go. Brock Nelson rips his second of the night, this time from the point, beating a screened Price just above the right pad. 4-3.
  • Weirdness abounds: Jeff Petry goes to flip the puck out of the zone, and while it lands in the Canadiens bench, it went out of play prior to ending up there. Therrien is emphatically banging the puck on the boards to communicate his displeasure to the referees. They do not care.
  • Paul Byron finds himself on a shorthanded breakaway, only to fire it off the post. This may sound familiar to Calgary fans.
  • Carey has looked calm all game, but has had to shake off a bit of the rust dust to regain his form. Of course, Carey's idea of a warmup game involves 35+ stops in a winning effort, as the game ends 5-3 on a Brendan Gallagher empty netter.

Are we surprised by a win over the Islanders? Probably not - a game earlier in the season ended in a 4-1 Habs win, and Montreal has had the number of Tavares and company of late, winning in their last five meetings. For a game with as many goals as this one, it certainly didn't seem exciting, though maybe that's to be expected with the Habs playing their second game in as many nights.

The Habs and Isles will face off again on Sunday at the Bell Centre.

EOTP 3 Stars

  • 3. We did it!

  • 2. It was getting dusty

  • 1. Sums it up perfectly

Highlights