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Anderson scores twice, Canadiens hold off Islanders for win

Montreal Canadiens Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Juraj Slafkovsky - The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Josh Anderson is feeling the love from the passionate Montreal Canadiens fan base lately.

Anderson scored twice — and beat a goalie for the first time this season — as the Canadiens hung on for a 5-3 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

The 29-year-old Anderson, who entered the night snake bitten with one empty-net goal through 29 games, earned the game’s first star and a roaring standing ovation from the Bell Centre crowd.

"Just seeing their support over the last couple nights, it really is truly amazing, nights that I'll always remember," said Anderson. "It kind of choked me up a little bit on the ice, not gonna lie, that was a pretty special moment."

The ovation was so loud even the tunes blaring in Montreal’s dressing room couldn’t drown it out.

"I heard it from the dressing room, and there was music playing in the dressing room — so I can tell you that the ovation was pretty loud," said Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. "Josh got rewarded tonight and we're very happy for him."

Cole Caufield, who was scoreless in seven games, Joel Armia and Christian Dvorak also scored for Montreal (13-13-4), while Sean Monahan, Nick Suzuki and Justin Barron pitched in with two assists each.

Sam Montembeault stopped 30 shots in his second consecutive start as Montreal won for just the second time in their last 10 home games.

Brock Nelson scored twice, Noah Dobson had three assists and Semyon Varlamov finished with 36 saves for New York (14-8-8), which trailed 4-0 entering the third period but scored three times to make it a one-goal contest. It was the Islanders’ first regulation loss in December.

Bo Horvat extended his point streak to a career-high 10 games by scoring New York’s third goal.

"He’s feeling it," said Anders Lee. "Things are coming to him and he’s also taking advantage of those opportunities, he’s playing great hockey."

Horvat, however, appeared to injure himself in the dying seconds of the game after falling to the ice. The team didn’t have an update on his condition.

The Islanders were playing the second night of a back-to-back after losing 5-4 in a shootout to the Boston Bruins on Friday, and it showed through 40 minutes.

“They knew we were on a back-to-back, they got on us early,” said Dobson. “We weren’t able to gain any traction until the third.”

Montreal outshot New York 14-10 before taking it up a notch in the second with four unanswered goals.

Armia broke the deadlock at 7:45 and Anderson doubled the Canadiens lead with a shot through a screen for his second of the season at 10:35.

"(It’s) better than scoring yourself,” said Caufield of seeing Anderson score. “That's gonna get him going a little bit more so I'm pumped."

Montreal then scored twice 15 seconds apart in the final minute of the frame to take a commanding lead.

Anderson potted his second of the night by driving to the net before Caufield finished a tick-tack-toe play for his eighth of the campaign.

"We knew coming in that we needed a big night out of ourselves,” said Anderson. “Obviously with them coming off a back to back, we needed to take advantage and have a great start like we did."

But the Canadiens are not accustomed to playing up such a wide margin.

Nelson scored short-handed 2:07 into the thirdbefore adding another at even-strength 1:36 later to quickly cut the deficit in half and swing the momentum, leading to a timeout from St. Louis.

"(The Islanders) were out there like they're on the pond, and just played very loose, and it's really hard to play against,” said St. Louis. “Our game plan is to be executed based on predictability of what that team does. And when they're down four goals in the third period, they're not doing that.

"We're not in these situations a lot, up three in the third, up four … you got to experience that, tonight we did. We'll learn from it, we'll watch some video about it. It's lessons."

Horvat buried a rebound at 14:06 to bring New York within one, but Montreal held off some sustained pressure the rest of the way before Dvorak scored into an empty net with 22 seconds left to ice it.


Canadiens: Open a seven-game road trip on Monday playing the Winnipeg Jets.

Islanders: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2023.