QUEBEC CITY, Que. – It’s been a productive pre-season for Montreal Canadiens centre Tomas Plekanec.
The team’s 2009-10 scoring leader had two goals and a two assists Saturday in a 7-2 victory over the New York Islanders split squad to end the exhibition schedule with nine points in four games.
”You want to get a good feeling about your game and be ready for the first regular season game,” said Plekanec, who had six goals and three assists in the pre-season and looked particularly strong while with last season’s linemates, Michael Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn.
Benoit Pouliot also scored twice while Cammalleri, who had two points, P.K. Subban and Lars Eller had the other goals for Montreal (4-3-0), which now heads to Malbaie, Que., for four days of bonding and getting ready for the regular season.
Jon Sim and Jesse Joensuu scored for New York (0-4).
Plekanec was pleased to see Kostitsyn have a strong game.
”Even on the bench, I feel he’s very interested in the game,” said Plekanec. ”He’s talking and he’s into it. He wants to play well. Hopefully he can keep it up and we’ll have a strong line.”
However, Cammalleri was ejected and given a five-minute slashing major late in the second period after a hard shot to rookie Nino Niederreiter’s skate. He may face further discipline for the shot—dubbed “gutless” by Islanders assistant coach Dean Chynoweth, who was behind the bench while Scott Gordon worked with the rest of the team.
”We’re still in the evaluation process with certain guys,” said Chynoweth. ”Having the lesser lineup you see guys in different situations against NHL guys so you can take what you want from it as a fan, but as a coaching staff we get an idea of where our younger players are at.”
A full house of 15,077 was on hand at the Pepsi Colisee.
It was nominally the Islanders’ home game, but the Canadiens wore their red home jerseys and had the crowd on its side for a mostly one-sided game.
Carey Price was sharp on the few dangerous Islanders chances. Montreal outshot the Isles 25-22.
The Islanders sent a B-team that was without top players like John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Dean McAmmond and Josh Bailey, who played in the club’s other split-squad game, a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.
But the Isles had some of their best prospects on hand, including defencemen Travis Hamonic and Niederreiter—the fifth pick in the June draft—who worked a give-and-go with Sim on New York’s goal at 10:55 of the first.
Tic-tac-toe passing from Kostitsyn to Plekanec to Cammalleri produced the first goal at 3:25 and a turnover let Jeff Halpern set up Pouliot for a goal 1:30 later.
After Sim’s goal, Subban and Plekanec each beat Manny Legace on power plays—a sign of progress for a team that was 3-for-37 going into the game.
Plekanec scored again 2:42 into the third on the first shot against Mikko Koskinen, Pouliot added another on a power play at 13:28 and rookie Eller got his first as a Canadien with a wrist shot at 16:48.
Joensuu beat Price from the slot with 1:20 left to play
Notes: It was a big day for hockey as thousands marched in Quebec City in support of a new arena they hope will bring back the defunct Nordiques. Several former Nords were on hand, including brothers Peter, Marian and Anton Stastny as well as Michel Goulet … The Canadiens left after the game for Malbaie, Que., for four days of bonding before the regular season … The Canadiens had a nearly full lineup, missing only Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.