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Islanders score twice early, hold on to snap 4-game skid

Jan 14, 2023; Elmont, New York, USA;  Montreal Canadiens right wing Evgenii Dadonov (63) moves the puck while New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) pursues during the first period at UBS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports

Casey Cizikas and Anthony Beauvillier scored early in the first period Saturday night for the host New York Islanders, who snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Montreal Canadiens 2-1.

Goalie Ilya Sorokin made 22 saves for the Islanders, who moved past the Pittsburgh Penguins — who lost Saturday at Carolina — into the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins have two games in hand on New York, which was 0-3-1 in its previous four games.

Nick Suzuki scored in the third for the Canadiens, who have lost 12 of 15 (3-11-1). Goalie Sam Montembeault recorded 36 saves in defeat.

The Islanders, who scored two goals or fewer in each of their last four games and in six of their previous seven contests, took control early by scoring on two of their first five shots.

A Canadiens turnover led to Cizikas’ goal just 2:25 after the opening faceoff. Cal Clutterbuck got a piece of the clearing pass off the boards by Montembeault, who was being pressured by Cizikas. The puck then bounced to Noah Dobson, whose shot glanced off the stick of Cizikas in the crease as he got a step on Montreal defenseman Jordan Harris.

A faceoff win deep in the Canadiens zone led to Beauvillier’s goal fewer than four minutes later. After Jean-Gabriel Pageau outdueled Nick Suzuki, Scott Mayfield corralled the puck just in front of the blue line and fired a shot into a heavily trafficked crease. With seven players in or near the shooting lane, the puck bounced off the chest of Montembeault to Beauvillier, who was to the right of the goalie and put the rebound back beyond the goalie’s glove at the 6:03 mark.

The Islanders outshot the Canadiens 14-9 in a scoreless second period before Suzuki ended Sorokin’s shutout bid just before the midway point of the third. Suzuki corralled the puck while skating around Mayfield and shoveled the puck between Sorokin’s legs with 10:04 left.

The Canadiens pulled Montembeault with a little more than a minute left but didn’t mount a serious scoring threat.

–Field Level Media