Another home loss, with another single-goal output by the Islanders against a sharp goaltender.
The Isles dropped a 3-1 decision to the Canadiens at the Coliseum Saturday night, their third straight loss this week, all on home ice and just three total goals in those losses. And they've now lost four straight at home.
"There's a little bit [of frustration], but at least it's happening now when we can fix things," Johnny Boychuk said. "A month from now [if we play like this], we're going home. So we have time to look at the video, see what's wrong and try to correct it."
Saturday night, there were two glaring errors that led directly to the Canadiens goals (their last was an empty-netter with 24.4 seconds to go) and a lot of Montreal's Hart Trophy-candidate goaltender, Carey Price.
Thomas Hickey stepped up to try and knock Alex Galchenyuk off the puck in center ice in the opening minute of the second period, but Galchenyuk sidestepped the hit and rushed into a Canadiens three-on-one. Tomas Plekanec buried a feed from Galchenyuk with Michal Neuvirth helpless to open the scoring.
Neuvirth and Boychuk got their signals crossed on an Islanders power play just a couple of minutes later and Neuvirth ended up passing the puck to Lars Eller, who fed Max Pacioretty for an easy shorthanded goal at 3:13.
Two mistakes, two goals. When the Canadiens made mistakes, Price was there to bail them out or the Islanders flubbed their chances. Matt Martin had an open net midway through the second off a rebound, but he didn't get enough of his tap-in and Price snared the puck with his glove, one of 35 saves for the Canadiens goaltender.
"It's one you've gotta have," Martin said. "You don't get another shot at it. It stings for sure."
Much the same as Friday's 2-1 loss to the Senators, the Islanders didn't generate much through the opening minutes of the third while down two goals. They started to come on late and Josh Bailey scored a power-play goal with 2:18 remaining and the Isles' net empty, a quick swipe from the slot.
But that was all the Islanders could muster, their lowest three-game output of the season. And it marked the first time all year John Tavares has been held without a point in three straight.
"It's definitely a disappointing week, three home games and nothing to show for it," Tavares said. "Three goals in three games, you're not going to win."
The Islanders now sit three points back of the Rangers, who have four games in hand. The Isles are two points up on the Penguins for second place and home ice in the opening playoff round, with Pittsburgh holding two games in hand.
These are concerns, but farther down the list than the Isles' ability to right their offense in the final 11 regular-season games.
"Let it happen now," coach Jack Capuano said. "We're a little snakebitten, we're not getting the goals we did before. It can be good. It makes guys want to work a little harder in the offensive zone, to go to the dirty areas and work for it.
"We believe in these guys, this is a good bunch of guys. If the work ethic wasn't there, we'd have a sit-down. But they're playing hard, I think the fans can see that."