Peca's shorthanded goal 4:44 into the final period helped the
Islanders defeat the Canadiens 3-1 Thursday night and move into a
seventh-place tie in the Eastern Conference with Tampa Bay.
"The big thing is confidence," Islanders forward Mark Parrish
said. "We manage to start most games with confidence, but we're
now keeping that during the course of the entire game. Early in the
season, we'd get a bad bounce and we'd get down. Now, we feel we
can overcome those bad bounces."
Oleg Kvasha and Parrish also scored for New York, which leapt
over Montreal in the standings with the win.
Niklas Sundstrom had given the Canadiens an early lead, while
goalie Jose Theodore stopped 28 shots. It was the first regulation
loss for the Canadiens in seven games (3-1-2-1), and snapped a
modest two-game winning streak.
Garth Snow stopped 22 shots for the Islanders, who head into the
All-Star break with a 11-4-0-2 record since the Christmas break.
They have not lost consecutive regulation games since Nov. 29-30.
After Kvasha's goal tied the game at 1 early in the final
period, Peca gave the Islanders the lead 65 seconds later. He
scored the team's ninth shorthanded goal, which ties them for
second most in the league. Roman Hamrlik picked up a loose puck at
center ice and moved down the left side. He crossed a pass to Peca,
who initially fanned on the shot, then recovered and put a wrist
shot past Theodore, who committed to the first attempt.
"I was just trying to stay strong on my stick," Peca said. "I
was trying to get the shot off quick with a man right on me, and I
was fortunate to be able to get it through the five-hole."
A failed clearing attempt led to Montreal taking a 1-0 lead 5:55
into the game. Karl Dykhuis kept the puck in at the left point, and
shot toward the net. Snow made the save, but failed to control the
rebound. Joe Juneau pounced on the loose puck and fed it over to
Sundstrom, who threw it into the open net.
"I just missed it," Snow said of the rebound. "I didn't even
see (Sundstrom) there."
The Islanders outshot Montreal 14-6 in the period, and their
best chance came in the last 90 seconds when Parrish took a rebound
at a sharp angle and backhanded a shot off the left post.
"It's just a case of hitting some and missing some," Parrish
Theodore said the first period was the toughest for him.
"They had all their best chances in the first period,"
Theodore said, "and we were the ones with the lead. But for the
whole game, they were first on the puck. We were able to get away
with a lead after two periods. They played better than we did."
The Islanders outshot Montreal 8-7 in the scoreless second
period, and had a chance to tie the game on their first shift, but
Peca hit the crossbar. New York tied the game at 3:39 of the final
period when Alexei Yashin swung around the net, emerged at
Theodore's left, and swept a backhand pass to the other side, where
Kvasha wristed the pass into the lower right corner.
"I was the one that made the mistake," Montreal defenseman
Craig Rivet said. "I have to be accountable for that. I have to be
tighter and stronger in that situation."
Parrish iced the game with an empty-net goal with 59.9 seconds
Since Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin wasn't ready to
return from a groin injury, New York dressed just five defensemen
and 13 forwards for the second straight game. ... Hamrlik, the
Islanders' All-Star representative, led all skaters with 35:17 of
ice time. ... Coming into the Islanders game, the Canadiens have
had 11 one-goal decisions in their last 16 contests. ... Islanders
head coach Peter Laviolette is the Atlantic Division leader in
terms of seniority. The Rangers and Devils have used three head
coaches since Laviolette started at the beginning of the 2001-02
season, while the Penguins and Flyers had two each.