The Upshot: Late push isn't enough for the NY Islanders to overcome the Montreal Canadiens

Dec 16, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson (17) celebrates with
Dec 16, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Josh Anderson (17) celebrates with / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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HOW IT HAPPENED

Coming off a thrilling game in which the NY Islanders fell to the Boston Bruins 5-4 in OT, the Isles had a difficult time getting the legs going tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, falling by a score of 5-3. The first 40 minutes went as poor as imaginable, nearly getting run out of the Bell Centre. Going into the first intermission with the game knotted at zero, the Isles had ample time to get their feet under them against one of the Eastern Conference's bottom-dwellers but had one of their worst periods of the season in the second. Joel Armia started things for the Habs with his fifth of the season, followed by two goals from Josh Anderson. Just 15 seconds after Anderson's second, Cole Caufield buried his eighth of the season. In the third period, a different Islanders team from the first two periods appeared,m getting two goals early goals from Brock Nelson and another from Bo Horvat, as they trailed by just one with 5:56 remaining. That was all the Isles had left in the tank, as an empty netter from the Habs sealed the game.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The Isles showed heart in the third period, turning it into a competitive hockey game for the final period. After posting only 16 shots on goal for the first two periods, the Isles managed 18 in the third. Semyon Varlamov kept the Isles in the game despite allowing four through 40 minutes.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The Isles appeared to be skating in mud all night long. From the forwards to the defensemen, nothing went right. The Habs had high-danger chances all night, able to capitalize on enough to put the game out of reach rather quickly. It's tough to look at just one player in particular and point out his performance, as it was an awful team effort against a well-rested Montreal team.

STATS OF THE GAME

  • Mat Barzal's point streak ended tonight, after recording points in five games
  • Bo Horvat extends his point streak to 10 games (7G, 9A)
  • Josh Anderson's two goals tonight were his first at 5-on-5 since March 13.
  • Montreal's 21 shots in the second period were the most allowed by the Islanders in over a year

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE NIGHT

Nelson's first of the night, coming while short-handed, was his best impression of Simon Holmstrom. Though the Isles were perfect on the PK tonight, it seems like their best hope of killing off a penalty is by scoring one themself.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Isles have two nights off before the first of another back-to-back, hosting Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at UBS Arena for a 7:30 pm puck drop.