MONTREAL (AP)—Ryan O’Byrne blamed himself for costing the Canadiens a point. He didn’t blame the Montreal fans for booing him.
O’Byrne allowed the tying goal when he put the puck in his own net on a delayed penalty, and Bill Guerin scored the shootout clincher for the New York Islanders in a 4-3 victory over Montreal on Monday night.
Guerin was credited with the goal on O’Byrne’s gaffe, which made it 3-all at 15:13 of the third period.
After the game, a disconsolate O’Byrne said he didn’t realize a penalty was being called on Sean Bergenheim. So when Doug Weight pressured him on the forecheck, O’Byrne figured he would send the puck back to goalie Carey Price.
But Price was off for an extra attacker, so he wasn’t there to stop it and the puck slid slowly into the net. Parts of the Bell Centre sellout crowd of 21,273 booed for a long time after the goal. Before overtime, fans chanted O’Byrne’s name in derision as the Canadiens filed off the bench toward the dressing room.
“I feel bad. I apologized to everyone in the room,” said O’Byrne, who didn’t see the ice for the rest of the game. “The fans are eager for victories and they had a right to react the way they did.”
Everyone on the Canadiens was quick to come to O’Byrne’s defense, especially Gorges, who shot a nasty look toward the crowd after the game.
“I know it’s tough because they expect a lot and we expect a lot out of ourselves as well,” Gorges said. “I know how it feels. I’ve put the puck into my net before. It’s never intentional. It’s a bad break, and nobody feels more sick to his stomach about it than Ryan does.
“I just thought to chant his name was tough because I know how he feels and he’d give anything to take it back.”
Bergenheim went straight to the penalty box after the goal, but the Canadiens couldn’t covert on that power play, or another one at 18:34 of the third that stretched into overtime.
Montreal’s top-ranked power play from the past two seasons finished the night 1-for-7 and is 3-for-38 in the last eight games.
Gorges got his goal on a rare power-play shift, and Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said more personnel changes can be expected in an effort to turn it around.
“We’re going to try a lot more experiments because since the beginning of the season we’ve been leaving the same 10 players who are supposed to make the power play work, but it’s not working,” Carbonneau said. “If we have to put the fourth line on the ice to change things up, that’s where we’re at right now.”
MacDonald stopped 23 shots in regulation and overtime.
“It’s an unfortunate bounce for Price. He had a pretty good game going,” MacDonald said. “We were going short-handed, too, so it would have been tough for us to even get that first point. But strange things happen in 60 minutes, and we kept putting pressure on them to force (O’Byrne) to throw it back.”
The Islanders opened the scoring on the power play when Weight jumped on a loose puck in front and fed Park in the slot, who put his shot past a screened Price at 6:54.
The Canadiens replied 17 seconds later when Begin tipped Roman Hamrlik’s wrist shot from the point through MacDonald’s legs at 7:11.
Montreal went ahead when Gorges scored at 9:58 and Lapierre made it 3-1 at 4:29 of the second, converting a great feed from Higgins as he charged the net.
The Islanders cut the lead to one with another power-play goal as Hunter jumped on a rebound in the crease and put it off the post, off Price and in at 8:05.
The Isles had a great chance to tie it while killing a penalty later in the period, but Park’s stick broke while he was shooting at an open net.
After four games of line juggling, Carbonneau went back to his original forward combinations. He reunited last season’s top line of Tomas Plekanec between Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn, while captain Saku Koivu was between Higgins and Tanguay. … Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque was a healthy scratch, allowing Mathieu Dandenault to get back in the lineup after sitting out two games in a row. … Islanders D Thomas Pock served the fifth and final game of his suspension for elbowing Ottawa forward Ryan Shannon in the head Nov. 13.