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Canadiens @ Islanders Top Six Minutes: Habs make Isles work for their win

Apr 11, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) makes a save on Montreal Canadiens right wing Joel Armia (40) during the second period at UBS Arena. | Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

First period

  • Montreal is thinking offence early, getting all five players on the ice in formation for a rush.
  • Neither team wants to give up anything defensively, however, so we have only seen one shot in the opening minutes.
  • Michael Pezzetta gets called for shoving Mathew Barzal into the boards to open some space for his teammates, and Barzal is slow to get up and glide off the ice. That’s not what the Islanders want to see for their top scorer.
  • Barzal is back, so these home fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
  • The Islanders did absolutely nothing with their power play. It hasn’t been good in recent months.
  • Nick Suzuki gets a breakaway, but Semyon Varlamov stays with his move to the backhand and keeps the puck from going through his five-hole.
  • Samuel Montembeault makes a nice save on a pass from behind the net to the slot.
  • Tanner Pearson grabs his man and rips him down, but neither ref calls it. The Habs got away with that one.
  • This is one of those pre-season defensive battles moreso than a playoff defensive battle. Neither side is playing at its best.
  • Now the Islanders are starting to get shots more regularly.
  • Juraj Slafkovský just turned around, saw the puck coming at him, put his stick down, and filtered the puck of the transition rush to start the counter.
  • A one-timer to Suzuki was blocked, but Jordan Harris got the follow-up chance and opened the scoring through Slafkovský’s screen. A great shift from the winger.
  • After a New York icing, Brendan Gallagher has space for a chance, but Varlamov snags his shot.
  • The Islanders played better late in the period, but the Canadiens took advantage of one of their few chances to open the scoring.
  • Now the middle period versus a good team awaits. It would be nice if they could score five goals again.

Second period

  • It looks like the Islanders are just about to score their first goal, but it looked that way in the first period as well.
  • And there’s the goal, from Pierre Engvall.
  • The Habs still don’t know how to handle the long-change period versus quality teams.
  • Brendan Gallagher got taken into the boards. David Savard came over to tell Jean-Gabriel Pageau he didn’t appreciate that, but Gallagher engaged Pageau himself, earning the takedown in the fight (with one extra shot while Pageau was down).
  • Now there’s a Pageau chant to the tune of “Olé!”. How did that find its way out of Ottawa?
  • Slafkovský is going off for holding. He put his hand on defenceman Ryan Pulock while following him out of the zone and got called.
  • As good as the Islanders have looked, they still only have five shots in the period with five minutes to play.
  • Montreal is getting the odd scoring chance with the top line on the ice, but that is all.
  • Engvall looks for goal number two on a breakaway, but Montembeault is all over it.
  • Joel Armia can’t bat in a Gallagher shot as he’s left alone in front of Varlamov.
  • Slafkovský just threw a man down who tried to take the puck from him, and kept the offensive-zone presence alive. Remember when he used to fall down every time he was hit last year?
  • Pezzetta checks Adam Pelech into the boards now. He’s been a bit reckless tonight.
  • Montreal loses another second period, but it’s just one goal they surrendered.

Third period

  • I just heard a skate blade clattering into the corner. It was Jordan Harris’s. Somehow he stayed on his feet to the get to the bench. He needs to teach that trick to other players.
  • Josh Anderson leads a three-on-one and decides to keep the puck and shoot. His shot is stopped, as is his follow-up chance.
  • Cole Caufield collects the puck after Johnny Kovacevic’s shot and puts it through Varlamov’s pads. No one realized the puck was in the net.
  • Mike Matheson picked up his 60th point of the season on the goal.
  • Montembeault lunges left to deny one chance. He lunges right trying to stop the wraparound from Casey Cizikas that follows, but can’t get back to his pot. It’s a tie game.
  • The crowd does a little “The Rangers suck!” chant, and it’s true, because they lost 4-1 to Philadelphia tonight.
  • Kovacevic sends the puck over the glass, and New York’s power play goes to work.
  • But really it’s Armia who enjoys the extra space on the ice, getting a short-handed shot away.
  • Suzuki could have forced his way into the zone for another shot, but at the end of his PK shift just dumped it in.
  • I feel the fans are about to start a “The power play sucks!” chant now. It hard to win when that part of the game isn’t working.
  • Shots ended up 32-14 after regulation. The Islanders has a lot of zone time, but Montembeault didn’t seem all that taxed by their efforts.


  • The Senators earned two points tonight, so Suzuki is free to win this one tonight without affecting the draft order.
  • Slafkovský just couldn’t get the puck to him on a two-on-one.
  • Kyle Palmieri goes over Montembeault’s shoulder and under the bar to win it 3-2. The Habs seem a bit upset about dropping that one on the bench.
  • New York moves that much closer to securing its playoff spot. The Habs take their point and head to Ottawa for a big game (as far as the draft lottery in concerned).

EOTP 3 Stars

3) You get your wish

2) If only he could skate a little faster

1) He knows the drill by now

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