Price, Canadiens hand Islanders another home loss, 3-1

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders aren't about to let a rough week derail what has already been a special season.

After a 23-8 start at home in their final season at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders have dropped four straight there -- including three this week in which they netted only one goal in each.

The latest setback came Saturday night when the Montreal Canadiens earned a 3-1 win over the goal-starved Islanders.

"I would hope so a little bit," coach Jack Capuano said when asked if his team was frustrated. "You want a little fire in your belly. I sound like a broken record. We played pretty well, to be honest."

Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty scored 2:15 apart in the second period, and Carey Price stopped 35 shots to win.

New York, 0-for-5 on the power play, sustained consecutive 2-1 losses to the Rangers on Tuesday, and to Ottawa on Friday. The Islanders again couldn't get the offense jump-started against the Canadiens, the only Eastern Conference team they didn't beat this season.

"We stay confident with these guys. We believe in these guys," Capuano said. "Let it happen now. For whatever reason, we are a little snake-bitten, and things aren't finding its way like it used to.

"It's good. It makes guys want to work a little bit harder."

New York is 1-3-1 in its last five overall and has dipped three points behind the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division race, and three behind Montreal in the race for the top of the East.

Price (38-14-4) bounced back from a loss against Ottawa two nights earlier in which he allowed five goals.

"This was a confidence builder for sure. A tough building to win in," Price said.

He heard chants of "Car-ey, Car-ey" from a large throng of Canadiens fans after a save during a late power play, but lost his shutout bid moments later when Josh Bailey scored with 2:18 left.

"Carey Price was Carey Price," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "He's a dominant player and a special player."

Capuano went as far as to call Price an "MVP goalie."

"He made three or four saves that were outstanding that could've changed the game around," Capuano said.

Lars Eller made it 3-1 with an empty-net goal.

Islanders backup Michal Neuvirth stopped 27 shots and fell to 1-1-1 in three outings since coming to New York. The Canadiens completed a three-game season sweep of the Islanders.

"This was a really solid effort by our club," Pacioretty said. "We played smart with the lead and never let up on them."

Plekanec opened the scoring 58 seconds into the second with his 20th goal, P.A. Parenteau made a drop pass to Alex Galchenyuk, who found Plekanec at the right post for the goal.

Neuvirth contributed heavily to Montreal's second goal at 3:13, a short-handed tally by Pacioretty. Neuvirth went behind the net to leave the puck for defenseman Johnny Boychuk. However, Eller beat him to it and centered a pass to Pacioretty in the slot for a shot that beat the out-of-position Neuvirth. It was Pacioretty's 34th goal.

"You give one of those up, it comes back to haunt you," Capuano said. "It would've been a 1-1 game. We gave up one goal 5-on-5 to a good team."

Price made his best save against Matt Martin in the second. Martin got to a rebound and faced a wide-open right side, but he flubbed the shot. Price lunged back into the crease to snare the puck with his glove.

"It's one that you want to have back, one you need to put in the net," Martin said. "It's one you'll think about for a little while. You just have to try to put it behind you."

Price also denied Frans Nielsen with 4:51 left in the second.

Islanders captain John Tavares, shaken up earlier in the first period, had New York's best scoring chance in the opening frame. He was turned aside by Price at the right post as he tried to put in a rebound during the Islanders' second power play.

He then split two defenders in the closing seconds on a hard drive to the net only to be stopped by Price as he fell. Tavares got up with his hands outstretched wondering why no penalty was called. He glanced back to the center ice video board to check out a replay, and then slammed his stick against the boards before heading to the tunnel after the period.

Game notes
Montreal C Torrey Mitchell, who sustained an upper-body injury on his second shift just three minutes in, didn't return. ... D Lubomir Visnovsky and C Ryan Strome sat out the second of back-to-back games for the Islanders.