MONTREAL – Ryan O’Byrne blames himself for costing the Canadiens a point, but he doesn’t blame the Montreal fans for venting their frustration towards him afterwards.
O’Byrne scored into his own net on a delayed penalty to allow the Islanders to tie it and Bill Guerin scored the clincher in the shootout to give New York a 4-3 victory Monday night over the Canadiens.
A disconsolate O’Byrne said after the game he didn’t realize a penalty was being called on Sean Bergenheim and when Doug Weight pressured him on the forecheck, he figured he would send it back to goalie Carey Price.
Except Price wasn’t there to stop it, and parts of the sellout Bell Centre crowd of 21,273 booed for a long time after the goal and chanted O’Byrne’s name in derision as the Canadiens filed off the bench toward the dressing room.
“I feel bad, I apologized to everyone in the room,” said O’Byrne, who didn’t see the ice for the remainder of the game. “The fans are eager for victories and they had a right to react the way they did.”
Guerin was credited with the equalizer while Richard Park and Trent Hunter also scored for the Islanders (9-10-2), who won for the fifth time in six games.
Steve Begin, Josh Gorges and Maxim Lapierre scored rare goals for the Canadiens (11-5-3), who lost their second straight shootout but still have points in four of their last five games.
Everyone on the Canadiens was quick to come to O’Byrne’s defence, especially Gorges, who shot a nasty look toward the crowd after the game.
“I know it’s tough because they expect a lot and we expect a lot out of ourselves as well,” Gorges said. “I know how it feels, I’ve put the puck into my net before. It’s never intentional, it’s a bad break, and nobody feels more sick to his stomach about it than Ryan does.
“I just thought to chant his name was tough because I know how he feels and he’d give anything to take it back.”
Bergenheim went straight to the penalty box after the goal, but the Canadiens couldn’t covert on that power play or another one at 18:34 of the third that stretched into overtime.
The Canadiens top-ranked power play from the past two seasons finished the night 1-for-7 and is now 3-for-38 in their last eight games.
Gorges got his goal on a rare power-play shift, and Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau said more personnel changes can be expected in an effort to turn it around.
“We’re going to try a lot more experiments because since the beginning of the season we’ve been leaving the same 10 players who are supposed to make the power play work, but it’s not working,” Carbonneau said. “If we have to put the fourth line on the ice to change things up, that’s where we’re at right now.”
In the shootout, Price stopped Hunter but was beaten by Park and Guerin, while on the other end Joey MacDonald stopped Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Tanguay to get the win.
MacDonald stopped 23 shots in regulation and overtime.
“It’s an unfortunate bounce for Price, he had a pretty good game going,” MacDonald said. “We were going shorthanded too, so it would have been tough for us to even get that first point. But strange things happen in 60 minutes, and we kept putting pressure on them to force (O’Byrne) to throw it back.”
The Islanders opened the scoring on the power play when Weight jumped on a loose puck in front and fed Park in the slot, who buried his shot past a screened Price at 6:54.
The Canadiens replied 17 seconds later when Begin tipped a Roman Hamrlik wrister from the point through MacDonald’s legs at 7:11.
Montreal went ahead when Gorges scored at 9:58 and Lapierre made it 3-1 at 4:29 of the second, converting a great feed from Higgins as he charged the net.
The Isles cut the lead to one with another power-play goal as Hunter jumped on a rebound in the crease and put it off the post, off Price and in at 8:05.
The Islanders had a great chance to tie it while killing a penalty later in the period, but Park’s stick exploded while he was shooting at an open net.
Guerin was credited with the tying goal at 15:13 of the third.
Notes: Carbonneau, after four games of line juggling, went back to his original forward combinations for this game. He re-united last year’s top line of Tomas Plekanec between Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn, while captain Saku Koivu was between Christopher Higgins and Tanguay. . . . Habs enforcer Georges Laraque was a healthy scratch, allowing Mathieu Dandenault to get back in the lineup after sitting out two in a row. . . . Canadiens winger Guillaume Latendresse his second game with a mystery injury, while defenceman Mike Komisarek missed his sixth game with a suspected shoulder injury. . . . Islanders defenceman Thomas Pock served the fifth and final game of his suspension for elbowing Ottawa forward Ryan Shannon in the head Nov. 13