Monday, October 24, 2005

Stirling Fumes As Islanders Fall In Montreal

They say you're only as good as your next game. Someone forgot to tell the Islanders, who dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Montreal (6-2-0) Saturday night at The Bell Centre.

With Alexei Yashin having redirected a Janne Niinimaa shot past Jose Theodore to tie it at three with 2:53 left, the Islanders were in position to force overtime. But it all fell apart on the very next shift when Steve Begin put the Canadiens in front 1:08 later, with 1:45 remaining. Taking advantage of a Rick DiPietro miscue, Radek Bonk fed a wide open Begin in the slot, who beat DiPietro for the deciding goal.

Afterwards, coach Steve Stirling was not pleased with his team's forwards lack of coverage on the final two Habs' goals.

"Our forwards were sloppy on the last two goals, really sloppy," Stirling indicated to reporters after the game. "We told them, 'You can't give up 4-on-2s.'"

"It's disappointing," said DiPietro. "That's not something that you want to have happen in the last two minutes of the game."

Coming off two straight wins over the Rangers, the Islanders couldn't carry the momentum into the first period. Instead, the Canadiens made the Isles pay the price for two penalties, scoring the game's first two goals 5:05 apart. With rookie defenseman Chris Campoli off for interference, Montreal captain Saku Koivu converted an Alexandre Perezhogin pass to open the scoring at 8:26. Alexei Kovalev made it two-for-two on the power play when he blasted a slapshot by DiPietro with 6:29 left in the first. Koivu got the lone assist.

However, the Isles got one back on one of their own power plays, when Miroslav Satan beat Jose Theodore, tucking the puck underneath at the right post to cut the lead in half with 2:17 left. It extended Satan's goalscoring streak to three games (4-0-4). He would score again later.

The sizzling Satan tallied his second PP goal of the night to tie the game 2-2 with 1:15 left in the second. Off a Yashin faceoff win, Alexei Zhitnik fed Satan at the right point, who then ripped a slapshot past Theodore to send the teams knotted after two.

But with under seven minutes to go in regulation, New York native Christopher Higgins gave Montreal a 3-2 lead when Begin set him up. Begin had a goal and assist.

DiPietro finished with 28 saves while Theodore turned aside 19 of 22 shots.


Notes: Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel both sat out with injuries....Islanders (4-4-0) host the Thrashers (3-5-0) at Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night.

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