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Young linemates guide Habs past Islanders
MONTREAL -- The young guns came out firing to put an end to the Montreal Canadiens' recent woes.
Center Lars Eller and left winger Alex Galchenyuk each had a goal and two assists, and Montreal ended a four-game winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday night.
Goaltender Carey Price made 24 saves for the Canadiens, who were 0-3-1 in their previous four games.
"When you're losing and you want to help the team by scoring, it takes a toll on you, but there was never any panic," said Eller, who at 24 is the elder statesman on a line with 19-year-old Galchenyuk and 21-year-old right wing Brendan Gallagher. "I think if you look at a lot of the games, we played well and we were creating chances, and pucks just weren't going in, but today they did and it was nice to help the team get a win."
Gallagher scored the first of Montreal's three second-period goals, and Eller and left wing Michael Bournival scored power-play goals 2:50 apart late in the middle period to put the Canadiens up 3-1.
"We talked about it before the game, go in there not thinking too much, not trying to do extra stuff that we don't have to do," Galchenyuk said. "We just have to go out there and dump pucks in and make the easy plays and keep our feet moving all the time and just be aggressive out there and then good things will happen, and eventually they did today."
Gallagher assisted on Galchenyuk's goal at 10:37 of the third, which restored Montreal's two-goal lead.
"Yeah, that's when we're at our best, when we're talking to each other and we're communicating on the ice," Gallagher said. "It helps so much when other guys are helping you and they're kind of your eyes, and every game we've been successful that's kind of been our recipe."
Left wingers Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Brock Nelson scored power-play goals for the Islanders, who wrapped up an 0-4-0 road trip. Center John Tavares assisted on both goals.
New York goaltender Kevin Poulin stopped 27 shots.
"It's a game of mistakes," said Poulin, a Montreal native who had about 40 friends and family on hand for the game. "We made more than them, and that's it."
Nelson, who took the injured Thomas Vanek's place on the Islanders' top line with Tavares and right winger Kyle Okposo, cut the Canadiens' lead to 3-2 at 4:10 of the third period.
Nelson fanned from the edge of the crease on Tavares' centering pass from behind the net, but he directed the puck with his right skate between Price's legs and into the net. A video review upheld the on-ice ruling that Nelson did not use a kicking motion.
"I knew I got a little piece of my stick on it and then I felt it hit my foot, but I knew I didn't kick it in any way," Nelson said. "I tried to stop a little bit, actually, so I was hoping that the video showed the same thing that I felt. So it was kind of a lucky bounce."
Gallagher opened the scoring with his team-leading eighth goal at 1:46 of the second. He took Galchenyuk's pass off his skate at the blue line and beat Poulin with a drive from the right side inside the left post.
Bouchard got the Islanders' first power-play goal in their past 25 opportunities to tie the score at 1 at 7:23 of the second.
Eller scored his sixth goal at 16:14 to restore Montreal's one-goal lead. Bournival made it 3-1 at 19:04 when he deflected defenseman Raphael Diaz's point shot into the top right corner.
"It was a smart shot by Diaz," Bournival said. "He saw me, so I just needed to put my stick on the ice and deflect it."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano tried to put a good spin on the end of a bad trip.
"We made a little bit of a push, but we've got to stay positive here," Capuano said. "We've all been in this situation before. There's too much leadership, there's too much character on this team, and I thought the guys worked, it's just we're just not getting the results right now."
NOTES: Hall of Fame goaltender Vladislav Tretiak was on hand for the game. The Russian international hockey legend waved to the crowd to acknowledge a warm ovation when he was shown on the video scoreboard in the second period. ... Islanders LW Thomas Vanek missed the game because of an upper-body injury he suffered on Saturday. Vanek left and did not return after his first shift early in the first period of New York's 5-2 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus. He has one goal and two assists in six games with the Islanders since he was acquired from Buffalo on Oct. 27 in a trade that sent LW Matt Moulson to the Sabres along with a first-round draft pick in 2014 and a second-round pick in 2015. Vanek has five goals and seven assists in 19 games overall this season. ... D Radek Martinek was left out of the Islanders' lineup for a second straight game. ... Canadiens RW George Parros was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Parros played Montreal's previous four games since returning from a concussion he suffered in the Canadiens' season opener.