Fluke goal costs Habs a win
There isn't a hole big enough that Ryan O'Byrne can dig for himself to hide in.
The Montreal defenceman scored into his own net at 15:13 of the third period to tie the game, paving the way for the visiting New York Islanders to earn a 4-3 shootout victory over the Canadiens Monday night.
With the Habs sitting on a 3-2 lead and a delayed penalty called against New York, Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau pulled goalie Carey Price to get an extra attacker on the ice, but O'Byrne's back pass wound up in the empty Montreal net.
O'Byrne said he didn't realize a penalty was being called on the play and that he figured he would send the puck back to Price when he was being pressured by Islanders forward Doug Weight.
New York goalie Joey MacDonald stopped Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Tanguay in the shootout, while Richard Park and Bill Guerin (who was credited with the goal on O'Byrne's mistake) scored on their shootout attempts to help the Islanders steal a rare victory against the Canadiens.
O'Byrne's goal led to a chorus of boos from the Montreal fans, who took to chanting his name in derision.
"I feel bad, I apologized to everyone in the room," said O'Byrne. "The fans are eager for victories and they had a right to react the way they did."
Montreal had won its last seven games — and 12 of its last 15 at home — against New York. The Islanders' previous victory against the Canadiens came on Feb. 24, 2007, when the team skated to a 3-2 win on home ice.
Monday's result further compounded the misery of a struggling Habs side that has won just three of their last 10 games.
With the Islanders on the power play, Park opened the scoring when he beat a screened Price with a wrist shot from the slot at 6:54.
The Islanders' lead was short-lived, however.
Steve Begin scored on a tip-in off a Roman Hamrlik wrist shot a mere 17 seconds after Park's goal, and Josh Gorges' power-play tally at 9:58 put the Canadiens in front 2-1.
Tomas Plekanec earned an assist on the play, ending his seven-game pointless streak.
Maxim Lapierre's goal off a Chris Higgins pass early in the second period allowed the Habs to pad their lead, but Trent Hunter's power-play marker on a rebound at 8:05 helped the Islanders make it a one-goal game again.
O'Byrne calamitous error tied the game.
Sean Bergenheim was whistled for a holding penalty and Price left the Montreal net for an extra attacker.
The puck found its way into the Canadiens end and O'Byrne, while under pressure from Weight along the boards, made a back-pass that slowly rolled into the net as Price made his way to the bench.
"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."
O'Byrne was benched for the rest of the game, and the Islanders killed off Bergenheim's penalty and a second minor penalty early in the overtime period to force the shootout.
O'Byrne's teammates were quick to come to his defence.
"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."
The Canadiens play road games Wednesday in Detroit and Friday in Washington before returning home to host Buffalo Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
With files from Canadian Press