NEW YORK (AP) — Casey Cizikas and Anthony Beauvillier scored first-period goals and Ilya Sorokin made 22 saves as the New York Islanders snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Saturday night.
Nick Suzuki scored for Montreal midway through the third.
The Islanders had lost the first two games of their five-game homestand to Dallas and Minnesota after dropping three of four on a Western road trip to start the calendar year.
“We came out with the right mentality, had a really good first period and a really good game.'' Islanders captain Anders Lee said. ”That's a big two points tonight."
The last-place Canadiens were coming off a 4-3 home win over Nashville on Thursday but have only three wins in their last 15 games. Montreal has lost eight of 10 and is 3-11-1 since Dec. 12.
“Our guys fought,'' Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. ”We were under pressure. They play a hard game."
Cizikas opened the scoring at 2:25 of the first, beating Canadiens netminder Sam Montembeault for his fourth goal of season. Assists went to Noah Dobson and Cal Clutterbuck. Dobson leads Islanders defencemen with 26 points.
“I felt like everyone was on top of the puck and dialed in,'' Beauvillier said. ”It definitely feels good to get on the scoresheet. … And it's always special against Montreal. I grew up watching and cheering for them."
Suzuki scored his 16th of the season at 9:56 of the third to ruin Sorokin’s shutout bid.
Sorokin has allowed only seven goals in the last six home games. The 27-year-old Russian goalie improved to 15-14-2 this season.
"He's played very, very well,'' Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “It was nice to see him get rewarded for it. Everyone is happy for him.”
Montembeault made 36 saves in defeat.
“We always focus on getting pucks to the net,'' Lambert added. ”We did a good job of that."
The Islanders entered with only two wins over Montreal in their last 12 meetings in New York.
They will finish their homestand against Washington and Boston, two teams ahead of them in the conference standings.
“You see us when we're having success. That's what it looks like,'' Lee said. ”With that energy and tenacity, we fare pretty well."
The Islanders honoured Hall of Fame right wing and four-time Stanley Cup winner Mike Bossy before the game. A Montreal native, Bossy scored 50 goals or more in each of his first nine NHL seasons and finished with 573 in a 10-year career cut short by back injuries. Bossy died last April at age 65 from lung cancer.
The Islanders are 15-5-0 when scoring first. … New York (23-18-3) did not reach 23 wins last season until March 11. … The Islanders scratched forward Ross Johnston. … The Canadiens scratched goaltender Jake Allen and forwards Mike Hoffman and Michael Pezzetta. … Montreal also was missing veteran forward Brendan Gallagher, out for six weeks with a lower-body injury. … The teams meet again Feb. 11 in Montreal and April 12 in New York.
Canadiens: Visit the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Islanders: Host the Washington Capitals on Monday.
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Allan Kreda, The Associated Press