Coming into their St. Patrick’s Day game, the Montreal Canadiens had just split a home-and-away series with the Ottawa Senators. At a time when the team was desperate for additional points, the Habs were expecting to earn a much-needed victory over the New York Islanders. However, that was not meant to be, as the Islanders defeated the Canadiens 3-2 in the shootout.
The home team opened the scoring when minor-league call-up Aaron Palushaj scored his first career NHL goal at 2:53 of the first period. Palushaj’s goal was the only one scored in the opening frame.
In the second period, the visitors took control of the game by scoring a pair of unanswered goals. The first one came from Islanders captain Mark Streit at 2:00 with the man advantage. Frans Nielsen had the second one at 16:05, his 14th goal of the season, which gave the Isles a 2-1 lead.
Down 2-1 at this point, the Habs needed another goal to tie the score and remain in the game. They got that goal when Louis Leblanc tallied his fourth goal of the season at 3:38 of the third period. The score would remain tied at the end of regulation play, sending the game into overtime.
Neither team scored in overtime, which forced a shootout to determine the winner. David Desharnais, Montreal’s top shootout performer this season scored in the sudden-death tie breaker, as did teammate Rene Bourque. But the Islanders got the last laugh when their final shooter, Josh Bailey, beat Peter Budaj for the game-winning goal, giving them a narrow 3-2 victory over the struggling Canadiens.
Despite the loss, Budaj turned in a solid performance for the Habs, making 36 saves on 38 shots for a save percentage of .947. Al Montoya earned the victory after turning 28 of Montreal’s 30 shots aside, finishing the game with a .933 save percentage.
The Habs will enjoy an extended break before travelling south to face the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, Mar. 21. The Islanders will return to action on Tuesday, Mar. 20 to face the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Mark Streit is a former Canadien… Frans Nielsen was the first Danish player in the NHL… Chris Campoli began his professional career with the Islanders… Andrei Markov returned to the ice after missing the last game with an upper-body injury… An upper-body injury kept Tomas Kaberle out of the lineup… The Canadiens have gone to overtime in each of their past three games, and have gone to a shootout in two of those games… Aaron Palushaj is the first Habs player wearing No. 60 to score a goal since Jose Theodore last accomplished the feat in Jan. 2001.