NEW YORK â€” The New York Islanders had a strong effort from start to finish and head into the All-Star break playing their best hockey of the season.
Andrew Ladd scored twice to lead the Islanders to a 3-1 victory over Montreal on Thursday night, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Canadiens. Josh Bailey also had a goal and Thomas Greiss stopped 21 shots as New York improved to 5-0-1 in its last six.
“They were great (from) the drop of the puck,” interim coach Doug Weight said. “Team effort. Can’t find me a guy that really had a bad shift. … We played fast, we played hard, we competed. And 1 through 20, we were dialed in. It was a really good game.”
John Tavares and Nick Leddy each had two assists to help the Islanders beat the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens for the first time since April 10, 2014.
“We’ve beaten some good teams throughout the year, so I think we believe we can compete with anybody in the league,” Tavares said. “Obviously, you’re going to have to beat good teams to have success.”
New York, which was last in the Eastern Conference when Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano on Jan. 17, has jumped ahead of five teams and sits five points out of a playoff spot.
“As good as this stretch has been, we have to come out of the break and follow it up,” Tavares said.
Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens and Carey Price finished with 39 saves. Price, set for his fifth All-Star appearance, fell to 2-5-1 in his last eight games.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to the Islanders, they played a real solid game,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. “Carey was outstanding. If it was not for him, the game would not have been that close.”
Ladd put the Islanders ahead 2-1 at 7:20 of the third when he took a pass from Tavares and fired it past Price from the right circle for his 10th of the season. It was his second multi-goal game with New York since signing a seven-year, $38.5 million free-agent deal last July.
“It was a critical part of the game,” Ladd said. “Johnny did a good job getting the puck off the draw. I knew with him in the corner he was going to find some space. … So, nice play by him.”
Bailey scored on a slap shot from the high slot for his eighth of the season with 4:47 to go, putting New York up by two.
With the Islanders leading 1-0, Greiss slid to his left to make a nice save on Max Pacioretty about 8 1/2 minutes into the second period.
Price had to make a flurry of saves, stopping a wrist shot by Anders Lee and then sprawling left to right on a backhander by Bailey with 9 minutes left. Nikolay Kulemin fired a long shot that was stopped by the goalie, and Casey Cizikas was denied on the rebound. Anthony Beauvillier was also stopped on a wrister from the inside edge of the right circle.
“We just seemed to come out with a lot of energy and line after line was feeding off it,” Tavares said.
After the Islanders’ Dennis Seidenberg was sent off for hooking with just over 6 minutes remaining, the Canadiens scored just 16 seconds later. Weber’s slap shot from straightaway went off Greiss’ glove and into the goal with 5:51 remaining for his 12th of the season and 10th on a power play.
New York had some chances on a power play near the midpoint of the first period, but Price stopped Lee’s backhander from in close and an attempt by Tavares.
Greiss made a nice save on a wrister in close by Phillip Danault with about 9 1/2 minutes left on the Canadiens’ second shot on goal.
Ladd got New York on the scoreboard with 6:53 left in the first as he got the puck, skated into the right circle and fired a shot from the dot through Price’s five-hole.
NOTES: Montreal, which came in with the league’s third-ranked power play, finished 1 for 3 on the man advantage. … The Canadiens won 3-2 here on Oct. 26. The teams conclude their three-game season series at Montreal on Feb. 23. … C Tomas Plekanec played in his 220th consecutive game. … Tavares, who had his ninth multipoint game of the season, now has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in his last eight games. … Islanders RW Cal Clutterbuck did not play in the third period due to a lower-body injury.
Canadiens: Host Buffalo on Tuesday night in first game after All-Star break.
Islanders: Host Washington on Tuesday night.
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Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press