UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens have found every conceivable way to win or get a point since a trouncing by Toronto on Feb. 9. They avenged their only defeat in that stretch on Thursday night, scoring three third-period goals to beat the New York Islanders 5-2.
Brian Gionta scored the go-ahead goal 48 seconds into the third period, P.K. Subban scored his second goal of the night midway through the period and rookie Brendan Gallagher finished it off to help the Canadiens improve to 20-5-5, second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference. Montreal is 14-1-4 since the 6-0 drubbing by Toronto six weeks ago.
"We came into the third period with a lot of energy, got a quick one and kept it going," said Subban, who scored the tying goal midway through the second period and Montreal's fourth goal midway through the third. "It was a tough game but we're good at grinding for the full 60 minutes."
The same can't be said for the Islanders, who have lost for the 11th time in 24 games in which they have been tied or ahead in third period. New York is 13-14-3, still only three points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. They continued to struggle at home, where they are 5-10-2.
"It's about battle levels, winning the intangibles," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Games are won in the trenches. When you play with enough desperation, you don't win in this league. It's the little things that cost us again."
Gionta's 10th goal of the season came after center David Desharnais caught a wobbling puck by the blue line off a clearing attempt, set it down and passed it to Gionta in front.
Subban had tied the game 2-2 with his eighth of the season on a power-play at 10:53 of the second when he blasted a shot from the point past Poulin. Subban added his second goal at 10:10 of the third, and Gallagher had Montreal's final goal 33 seconds later, giving the rookie his ninth of the season.
Michael Ryder also scored for Montreal, whose lone regulation defeat since Feb. 9 came against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on March 5.
Carey Price made 25 saves for Montreal.
"This was a good win for us," said Max Pacioretty, who had two assists for the Canadiens and leads the team in scoring with 9 goals and 16 assists. "We have to play a pressure style to win and we did that tonight when it counted."