THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — A four-goal, third-period comeback would be cause to celebrate for most NHL teams, but Montreal Canadiens still found reason to be disappointed in their effort.
Alexei Kovalev’s second goal of the game with 4:41 left capped the rally that lifted the Canadiens to a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
"The good thing about tonight is that we showed character and that we’ll fight to the end," Kovalev said. "Our biggest problem so far this season is that when other teams skate and put pressure on us, we get out of our game."
Kovalev’s close-in shot beat Yann Danis, a goalie making his first NHL start in nearly three years, and gave the Canadiens their third straight win.
"Obviously, losing a game when you’re up 4-1 is never a good thing," Danis said. "They got a couple of lucky bounces and capitalized on them."
Danis, the Islanders’ third-string goalie, could be in line for more action with regular backup Joey MacDonald because No. 1 netminder Rick DiPietro will be out four-to-six weeks following knee surgery on Friday.
The Canadiens got two goals and two assists from Tomas Plekanec and one from Long Island native Christopher Higgins. Carey Price made 27 saves.
Former Canadiens defenceman Mark Streit scored for the Islanders, along with Jon Sim, Bill Guerin and Frans Nielsen.
The Islanders are winless in six games (0-5-1) since a 4-3 overtime victory at Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. Danis, who spent time in the Canadiens organization, stopped 27 shots.
"The biggest thing was there were a lot of shortcuts," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "It wasn’t because of anything they did differently. The loosening up in front of the net and the shot area, that shouldn’t happen."
Montreal took a 1-0 lead 2:03 in when Kovalev took Plekanec’s pass in the low slot and beat Danis with a quick wrist shot.
New York tied it at 3:47 on its first power play. Streit ripped a right point slapshot that beat a screened Price.
Streit found it a difficult to face his former team.
"I played a long time in Montreal," Streit said. "It’s not easy the first time. I tried to do my job the best I could."
The Islanders took their first lead after a span of 317 minutes, four seconds of playing time over five games when Sim sent a slapshot from the top of the left circle between Price’s pads at 12:27 that made it 2-1. New York hadn’t been ahead in a game since Oct. 16 when the Islanders beat Tampa Bay in overtime.
New York capitalized on another power play early in the second period to grab a 3-1 lead when Guerin scored on a tip-in.
Nielsen made it 4-1 on an in-close wrist shot that hit the top of the net at 16:43.
Plekanec scored twice in a 2:07 span to close the gap to 4-3 in the third period. His first goal came at 7:48 on a rebound, and his second, at 9:55 was scored with a quick wrist shot.
.Danis was not happy with Plekanec’s first goal.
"It just bounced off my glove," Danis said. "It’s one I should have had."
Higgins tied it at 14:06.
"We played one period, and we won," Higgins said. "I wish the effort was more consistent for 60 minutes."
Streit said the Islanders didn’t play at all in the final 20 minutes.
"For two periods, we really played well," Streit said. "Then we didn’t skate anymore. We just waited. We gave them space and time. We didn’t forecheck, we didn’t backcheck. We just watched."
Notes: The Islanders debuted their third jerseys, which look like the first uniform the team wore back in the early 1970s. One difference is that the stick in the logo has four stripes instead of the usual three, to signify each of New York’s Stanley Cup championships. … Price had allowed only 13 goals in his first seven games for a goals-against average of 1.91.