After picking up wins in consecutive games, the New York Islanders were largely outplayed by the Montreal Canadiens in a 4-2 loss.
Fresh off their 4-1 win in Detroit, the New York Islanders headed north of the border to challenge the Montreal Canadiens on the second night of a back-to-back. With the way the Islanders looked for most of the game, you’d think they’d forgotten their motivation in Detroit.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s game at the Bell Centre.
1. Thomas Greiss was the best Islander all night
Thomas Greiss allowed three goals on 39 shots. He was without a doubt the best Islander playing, and it was evident from pretty early on.
Greiss stymied a number of high danger chances from the Canadiens throughout the game. His cross-crease stop against Nate Thompson in the first period required excellent lateral movement, and awareness to beat Jordan Weal to the loose rebound in the crease.
The Islander goalie saved 24 of 25 low-to-medium danger shots. The only one to elude him was a Jeff Petry wrist shot from the point which came only moments after a faceoff in the Islander zone. Greiss never saw the shot, as the Canadiens forwards set a multi-layered screen off the draw.
The Islanders lost this game because Greiss was the only one doing his job for large gaps of time. Especially in the first two periods.
2. The Islanders didn’t play with the puck enough
In large part, the Islanders were outworked by Montreal. It felt like they lost every loose puck battle. The Canadiens used physicality and a supportive style of play to control the game’s pace, and it gave the Isles fits.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders committed 17 giveaways while only having 6 takeaways. They made it far too easy for the Canadiens to rack up offensive zone time.
When the Islanders did manage to push the play into the Montreal zone, their shot attempts were often blocked, redirected out of play, or from low danger areas. Many Islander shots that created a rebound were scooped up by a Montreal defender and carried the other way with little resistance.
3. Jordan Eberle has points in consecutive games
The urge to complain after games like these can sometimes make it difficult to remember the things that went well. While not much went well in this game, Jordan Eberle had some strong moments and picked up an assist along the way.
Eberle was maybe one of the most noticeable Islanders from early on. He drew a penalty on Montreal’s Gustav Olofsson that sent the Islanders to their first power play. Unfortunately, that Isles power play has been pretty bereft of success lately, and it was so again tonight.
Eberle got on the scoresheet when he took a Ryan Pulock pass and cut to the low slot. He fumbled with the puck for a moment, then sent it towards the Montreal net, at which point it appeared to carom off Ryan Pulock’s skate and head to the blue line, where Scott Mayfield shot it over Price’s blocker to make it 3-1.
Regardless, of the strange way that puck ended up behind Price, it’s a good sign when a player like Eberle is making those kinds of moves. Only minutes later, he was flying down the right-wing boards and putting a shot on net that Price turned away with the blocker. He was really pretty noticeable in the third period.
Other Game Notes
Cal Clutterbuck took a cross-check to the face from Gustav Olofsson on only his second shift of the game. He headed back to the bench after the play, but that would be the end of his night. He logged 2:01 TOI, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Only one Islander (Josh Bailey) recorded a FO percentage below 50 percent in this game. Bailey lost two of his three draws. Casey Cizikas won 14 of 20 faceoffs, and Leo Komarov won four of his five draws to finish with an 80 percent FO percentage.
The Islanders continued to struggle on the power play. Montreal’s 30th ranked penalty kill stymied the Islanders all night, keeping them 0-for-3. The Islanders are officially 1-for-19 (5.26 percent) since the first game of their west coast road trip in San Jose. That night they went 0-for-6 en route to a 2-1 overtime loss.