Saku Koivu’s two power play goals powered the Canadiens to a 4-2 victory over the Islanders on Thursday night.
Two of the six penalties called against New York were for too many men, and though Montreal didn’t score on either one, that did not appease Islanders coach Ted Nolan.
“All those penalties were hurtful to our team,” Nolan said. “We have to learn some math - we can’t have six skaters on the ice.”
Craig Rivet and Guillaume Latendresse also scored for Montreal, which moved five points ahead of Toronto and Ottawa for second place in the Northeast Division. Cristobal Huet stopped 25 shots for his 11th win.
“Our power play is going pretty good right now,” said Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray, who picked up two assists in the win. “Saku’s in front of the net, taking all the abuse, and getting the rebounds.”
The Islanders, who enjoyed a two-day stay atop the Atlantic Division, fell to third place, two points behind the Rangers and Devils.
Asham gave New York an early lead, tipping Jason Blake’s slap shot over Huet’s shoulder 25 seconds into the contest.
“We played good for the first two minutes, and then we didn’t sustain it,” Nolan said. “We missed assignments, and that’s very uncharacteristic of our team.”
Rivet tied the score at 5:36 when his wrist shot from the outer edge of the left circle beat DiPietro.
Latendresse put Montreal ahead with 29.8 seconds left in the period. He grabbed the rebound of Sheldon Souray’s shot and tucked it inside the post.
The teams traded second period power-play goals.
Montreal moved ahead 3-1 at 6:51 when Koivu finished off Michael Ryder’s centering pass.
“Michael made a great pass over to me,” Koivu said. “It’s just a question of right place, right time.”
The Islanders answered back at 8:53, 10 seconds into their third power-play chance. Sillinger, at the left post, tipped Sean Hill’s shot past Huet.
Koivu connected for his 10th of the season on a backhand during a power play at 5:10 of the final period.
“With Sheldon and Alex (Kovalev) shooting, we have a great chance to get a lot of shots on net,” Koivu said. “I was managing to get those rebounds.”
Souray likes the makeup of his team.
“We’ve shown a lot of resilience and character,” Souray said. “We’re gaining confidence, because the guys are up to the challenge and we’re all on the same page.”
The Islanders had a power play for the last 1:37 of regulation, and pulled DiPietro, but Huet stopped all eight shots he faced in that time.
“I don’t know if the guys weren’t ready or what,” Asham said. “We’re all professionals here, and we have to play all 60 minutes if we want to win the game. It seems like the last few games, we haven’t been putting out the effort. We’re making bad plays and taking a lot of penalties, and you can’t win games if you’re in the box all the time.”
The Islanders recalled forward Blake Comeau from their Bridgeport farm team on Thursday on an emergency basis. Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon played in his 300th NHL game. … Montreal won three of the four meetings between the two teams last season. … The announced attendance was 9,551, marking the fifth time in 15 home games the Islanders failed to draw at least 10,000 people. … The Islanders are winless in their last six contests against teams from Canada (0-5-1)…New York has failed to register a single point this season when trailing after two periods (0-10-0).