The skinny: Forget that notion of the Canadiens going into the playoffs with some momentum. The Canadiens looked like anything but a Stanley Cup contender Thursday night as they dropped a 2-0 decision to a New York Islanders team that had 11 rookies in uniform. The Canadiens had targeted this game as a must-win. They left goaltender Carey Price and defencemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin in Montreal to rest while they travelled to Chicago for a game Wednesday night. The Canadiens were outshot 10-2 to start the game and were on the short end of a 30-19 spread at game’s end. The disparity would have been greater if the Canadiens hadn’t blocked 23 shots. Evgeni Nabokov posted his fourth shutout of the season.
Tampa here we come: The Canadiens are still clinging to second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for their first-round series against Tampa Bay. But the Lightning is only one point behind Montreal after beating Philadelphia Thursday and has two games to play while the Canadiens have one.
Isles power up: The Islanders grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of second-period power plays against one of the top penalty-killing units in the NHL. Ryan Strome opened the scoring with a shot from the point that went in off a post at 15:05. The goal was originally waved off, but a video review showed the puck hit the post and then hit a net camera before coming out. Brock Nelson made it 2-0 when he was given far too much space and he put a shot over Price’s shoulder with 19.8 seconds remaining in the period. The Islanders went 2-for-3 on the power play. The Canadiens were 0-for-3 on the power play and are 0-for-20 over the last seven games.
Hearing looms for Murray: Defenceman Douglas Murray returned to action after serving a three-game suspension for elbowing Tampa Bay’s Michael Kostka and found himself back in hot water. He was handed a major penalty and a game misconduct for checking Johan Sundstrom from behind, but the NHL said after the game that Murray would not be suspended.
Parros outmatched by Gallant: Islanders rookie Brett Gallant showed why he was featured on the hockeyfights.com website this week as he battled George Parros early in the second period. Gallant gave away five inches and 35 pounds but had the edge over Parros in the brief scrap. Gallant fought Matt Kassian in his NHL debut Wednesday night. His exhibition and minor-league record includes fights with Brian McGrattan and Arron Asham.
What’s next: The Canadiens wrap up the regular season with a visit Saturday from the New York Rangers (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN-690 Radio).
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