Third-period rally leads Canadiens over Islanders

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UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) -- Tomas Plekanec and Alexei

Kovalev showed the New York Islanders why no lead is safe in the

NHL.

Plekanec scored goals just over two minutes apart and Kovalev

capped a four-goal outburst in the third period with his second

of the game as the Montreal Canadiens rallied for a 5-4 victory

over the hapless Islanders on Saturday.

Kovalev opened the scoring two minutes into the game, but the

Islanders netted four straight goals en route to a 4-1 lead

after two periods. Plekanec ignited Montreal's outburst less

than eight minutes into the third and drew the Canadiens within

one at 9:55 with his second of the night.

"In the third period, we started skating and they couldn't keep

up with us," Plekanec said. "In the first two, we were making

stupid mistakes."

Chris Higgins forged a 4-4 tie with 5:54 remaining, and Kovalev

netted the decisive tally 73 seconds later as the Canadiens

outshot the Islanders, 16-4, in the third.

"We worked in the third period - that's it," Montreal coach Guy

Carbonneau said. "I don't think we worked in the first two

periods. ... What we did in the third was, we got on the ice and

made them work in their own zone. We got pressure and they took

some penalties, and then the momentum started going our way."

Plekanec and Kovalev also added two assists apiece and Carey

Price made 27 saves for the Canadiens, who have won three in a

row.

Defenseman Mark Streit, Jon Sim, captain Bill Guerin and Frans

Nielsen scored for New York, which has lost six straight.

"I take my hat off to (the Canadiens), but there is no reason we

couldn't have weathered the storm," Islanders coach Scott Gordon

said. "I don't know if in the last four games we had as much

circling as we had in the third period."

After Kovalev beat former Montreal goaltender Yann Danis to the

stick side from the slot at 2:03 of the opening period, New York

stormed back with four straight goals to seemingly take control.

However, the Canadiens had other plans as Plekanec knocked in a

rebound from in front at 7:48 of the third and converted a

backhand pass by Andrei Kostitsyn 2:07 later to cut the deficit

to 4-3.

"He finally got the break that he needed," Carbonneau said of

Plekanec, who entered with just one goal in his first nine

games. "He's easy to coach and takes responsibility."

"The way he's been playing, it's poetic justice that he got

points," Higgins added.

A native of Long Island, Higgins knotted the contest just over

14 minutes into the final session, receiving a backhand feed

from behind the net by captain Saku Koivu as three defenders

watched idly and beat Danis from alone on the doorstep.

"The biggest thing is, there were a lot of shortcuts (on our

part)," Gordon said. "It wasn't because of anything they did

differently. The loosening up in front of our net and the shot

area, that shouldn't happen."

"We just stopped playing. We didn't skate anymore, we just

waited," Streit said. "We gave them the space and the time.

Teams like that, they're going to take advantage. It was kind

of like a collapse. It hurts a lot."

Higgins admitted his team was lucky to escape with two points.

"We played one period and we won," he said. "I wish the effort

was more consistent over 60 minutes. We lost too many 1-on-1

battles in the first two periods, and they took it to us. We

didn't play smart."

With momentum completely on the side of the Canadiens,

defenseman Andrei Markov unleashed a shot from the left point.

Standing in the slot, Kovalev got the blade of his stick on the

puck, which also caromed off the skate of blue-liner Thomas Pock

before getting past Danis with 4:41 left, putting Montreal

ahead.

"Usually, other teams would destroy us (in that situation),"

Kovalev said. "The good thing was that we showed character and

(that) we'll fight to the end."

"Obviously, Montreal's a good team, but I was still feeling good

(in the third)," said Danis, who made 27 saves. "They got a

couple of lucky bounces and they capitalized on them. It's

extremely disappointing. Obviously, losing a game when you're

up 4-1 is never a good thing."

Trailing, 1-0, New York forged a tie when Streit - a former

Canadien - beat Price high to the glove side during a power play

at 3:47 of the first with a slap shot from the right point that

deflected off a defender's stick on its way to the net. Sim put

the Islanders ahead, 2-1, with 7:33 to go in the session, firing

a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Price

for a soft goal.

It was the 100th career point for Sim, who gave New York its

first lead in over 317 minutes.

Guerin doubled the advantage during a power play at 1:40 of the

middle period, redirecting Doug Weight's shot past Price, and

Nielsen made it a three-goal bulge with 3:17 left by beating the

netminder high to the glove side from alone in front.

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