Martin, Isles make statement with win over East-leading Habs
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
UNIONDALE, N.Y – After giving their fans a bit of a scare, the Isles stayed composed and beat the Montreal Canadiens, the best team in the East, 6-3 at the Nassau Coliseum.
“It was a big game for us,” Matt Martin said after the win. “We were able to make a statement. We know we have to finish strong here these last couple games at home and pick up points.”
The Islanders are in the middle of a seven-game homestand that has varied in results. They lost the first three games, but coming off a win on Sunday over the Ottawa Senators, the Isles were looking to string some wins together.
But the start of the first period looked as though the Islanders would fall victim to another loss. While it wasn’t a goal in the opening minute, Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring at the 5:21 mark. Plekanec was left wide open in the slot, because the Isles defenders thought the puck had moved into the near side corner.
The Isles fourth line of Martin, Cizikas and McDonald helped keep the team’s energy level up, despite giving up the lead early in the game, by throwing the body around and hitting anyone in sight.
“I thought that Cizikas, McDonald and Martin played extremely well,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought that line gave us some energy. [They] got us going physicality wise with their game and got pucks in. When you get the effort off those three guys you can build off that.”
The Islanders tied the game at 1:23 into the second period off a Matt Moulson snap shot. They took the lead at the 12:10 mark on Matt Martin’s first power play goal. The scoring continued as Michael Grabner made it 3-1 less than a minute after the power-play goal.
The Canadiens battled back however, as P.K. Subban fired a blast from the point, on the power play in the final minutes of the second period. And Brian Gionta scored, also on the power play, to tie the game at three at the 6:07 mark of the third.
But Radek Martinek put the Islanders back on top moments later off a blast of his own from the point. John Tavares gave his team a two-goal cushion after he scored with less than two minutes to play, and Colin McDonald sealed the win when he scored on the empty at 19:43.
“It’s a statement game,” Martin said after the win. “It’s a game we showed we can play with anyone.”
Martin finished the game seeing 15:56 of ice time, which included time on the power play.
“We wanted a net presence and Matty Martin is a good net presence,” Capuano reasoned for putting Martin on the power play. “He works on it all the time in practice. He’s a big guy, he tips pucks real well, and takes away the goalies eyes. So it worked out for us.”
The Isles power play finished the game 2-for-5.
Their next game is one that no one should have a hard time getting up for, as their longtime rivals, the New York Rangers, come to Nassau on Thursday. A win that night could potentially put them in a tie for the eighth spot in the East.
-Matt Martin finished the game with six hits and had more hits in the first period alone than the entire Canadiens roster had.
-Kyle Okposo recorded his 100th career assist on the Radek Martinek goal.
-The Canadiens scored the franchises 20,000th goal on the Brian Gionta goal.