Canadiens 5 Islanders 3: Plekanec continues to earn his pay
Tomas Plekanec had a goal and an assist to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders Wednesday night.
Plekanec's play continues to pay off for the Canadiens, and further justifies the reason Pierre Gauthier was willing to trade Jaroslav Halak to have cap room to sign him. The other side to that stroke of genius, is the play of Carey Price who made 18 saves on the night for his sixth win of the season.
P.K. Subban played a solid 19:29 at both ends of the ice, picking up an assist and the game's second star for his efforts.
Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Jeff Halpern and Andrei Kostitsyn added to the Montreal scoring.
James Wisniewski had a goal and two assists for the Islanders in a losing effort.
The Canadiens record moves them to 6-2-1, putting them in first place in the Eastern Conference for time being
It wasn't an easy win for the Habs, as the Islanders attempted to fight back from three two-goal deficits, but could never catch up to the Canadiens on the scoreboard.
The Montreal power play continues to struggle, going 0 for 3 on the night, while the Islanders managed to get two goals past Price on four chances with the man advantage.
The Canadiens got on the board first, at 13:19 of the first period, after P.K. Subban made some Savardian spinerama like moves at the blueline before firing a shot that deflected off the stick of Darche and past Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson.
Subban had been approached by Canadiens assistant coach Kirk Muller earlier in the week to use the fancy plays less often, and just shoot the puck. Subban responded with five shots on goal.
"You gotta continue to do the things that will help the team," he said. "The coaches are telling me to shoot the puck, but I gotta be smart on when I take them."
While the Habs power play has it's faults, the penalty kill unit got one of there own, at 17:54, after Hal Gill sent Plekanec and Moen in on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Plekanec made a textbook pass onto the stick of Moen, who easily slipped the puck into the net.
"I knew what he was going to do," Plekanec said. "He kept his stick on the ice, and I waited for the right time to pass it."
Wisniewski managed to get one back for the Islanders on the same power play, firing a point shot past a partially screened Price at 19:16.
Plekanec scored his fourth goal of the season, at 7:33 of the second period, when he ripped a shot high blocker side past Roloson. In fairness to the Islanders netminder, that was a goal in any league, on any goaltender.
John Tavares netted the Islanders second power play goal just 13 seconds into the third period, tipping in a Wisniewski shot.
The Canadiens got that one back when Halpern deflected a Benoit Pouliot shot past Roloson.
It was the third goal of the season for the Habs' "unsung hero," who acknowledged the benefits of playing alongside Darche. "I enjoy playing with him," said.Halpern, who also assisted on Darche's goal. "He's a great and very underated player, and he has the ability to have some vision."
Discipline became a problem for New York when Radek Martinek tripped up Pouliot on a breakaway, sending him crashing into Roloson. The Islanders goalie took exception, neglecting the fact that it was his player that sent Pouliot into him, and tried to get a few shots in on the Habs winger. Pouliot was awarded a penalty shot, which Roloson stopped and then had a few more words for his former Minnesota Wild teammate.
Islanders captain Doug Weight got the Islanders back within one at 12:56, but Kostitsyn's sixth goal of the season, into the empty net, insured the Canadiens victory.
The win was the Canadiens third straight, and they will look to continue that trend when they meet the Islanders again at the Nassau Coliseum.
"So far so good,' Plekanec added. "We're on a roll and hopefully we can keep it up."
The players will also meet with NHLPA reps on Thursday, while in New York.
Stat Pack: The Canadiens had 35 shots on goal, had 14 blocked and missed 14 the net 14 times. Josh Gorges had five blocked shots for Montreal. The Islanders out hit the Habs 25-13.
1. MTL - Mathieu Darche (Halpern, Subban) - 13:19
2. MTL - Travis Moen (SH) (Plekanec, Gill) - 17:54
3. NYI - James Wisniewski (PP) (Weight, Moulson) - 19:16
4. MTL - Tomas Plekanec (Kostitsyn, Hamrlik) - 7:33
5. NYI - John Tavares (PPG) (Wisniewski) - 0:13
6. MTL - Jeff Halpern (Pouliot, Price) - 6:56
7. NYI - Doug Weight (Wisniewski, Hillen) - 12:56
8. MTL - Andrei Kostitsyn (EN) -(unassisted) -18:58
Three Stars: 1. Tomas Plekanec 2. P.K. Subban 3. Carey Price