It was a big night for New York Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier, but not so great for Montreal coach Claude Julien in his 1,000th NHL game.
Beauvillier scored in the first period of his first game in the Bell Centre, where he grew up rooting for the Canadiens, and Thomas Greiss had a 24-save shutout as the Islanders downed the slumping Canadiens 3-0 on Thursday night.
The 19-year-old Beauvillier had a large group of family and friends on hand, including his parents whose emotional reaction to his goal was shown on the scoreboard.
“It’s really special,” said the Sorel, Que. native, who was named first star of the game. “I couldn’t ask for a better night than getting the two points in Montreal with family and friends around, and for the ovation at the end.”
Beauvillier said he bought 19 tickets for the game and several other of his supporters got their own to give the rookie a sizeable cheering section among the sellout crowd.
That his parents got to watch was extra-special.
“They’re the reason I’m here,” he said. “They supported me since I’m young. They paid for everything. It means everything for me to have them here. It was a little gift for them to score a goal and get the win here.”
Anders Lee also scored and John Tavares added an empty-net goal for the Islanders (29-21-10), who won a third straight game and are 12-4-2 since Doug Weight replaced Jack Capuano as coach.
“Pretty good from the drop of the puck,” was how Tavares described it. “We didn’t give them a lot.
“And a big goal by Bo. It was nice to see him score in his hometown. We knew how pumped up he was. I remember my first game in my hometown (Toronto). It’s really exciting with lots of friends and family. We really wanted him to soak it in. He stepped up and it was great to see him get rewarded.”
Greiss posted his third shutout of the season. Shots were even at 24 per team.
It was not such a happy night for Julien and the Canadiens (32-21-8). Montreal is 1-2-0, including 0-2-0 at the Bell Centre, since Julien replaced the fired Michel Therrien last week. They are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games with only 14 goals scored and have been shut out four times in that span.
Instead of a pre-game ceremony to mark Julien’s milestone, a pre-recorded video of the 56-year-old receiving a commemorative medal from team president Geoff Molson was played early in the first period on the scoreboard, drawing a standing ovation.
“It’s more my personality,” he said. “It’s great that I’ve had 1,000 games, but I didn’t want to be the centre of attention.
“I wanted to win that game more than I wanted to celebrate it. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. The Canadiens wanted to do something special for me and I asked that it be more discreet. I’m happy with the way they did it. They gave me a nice gift. It was shown on the board and that was good enough for me.”
He was less happy with how his team played. He cited poor puck management and execution for the lack of offence, although the Canadiens picked up the pace in the third period.
They will need to be better on Saturday when they play the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
“In order to have an identity, you need consistency and we haven’t had that in the three games that I’ve been here,” said Julien.
The Islanders owned the puck early and got the opening goal when Brock Nelson fed Beauvillier alone on the left side for a shot that beat Carey Price to the near post at 5:28.
Lee made it a two-goal lead 5:58 into the second when he sneaked behind Alexei Emelin to take a pass from Josh Bailey and score his 23rd of the season with a nifty shot from in close.
Montreal had a goal disallowed at 6:50 of the third when both Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron reached for the puck with high sticks on a Shea Weber shot. Another was waived off at 7:46 because Artturi Lehkonen put it in with a hand.
The Islanders were without Casey Cizikas (upper body) and Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), who were injured in a 3-1 win Tuesday over Detroit.
Price remains tied with Ken Dryden with 258 career wins, third all-time on the Canadiens. Montreal has not won back to back games since Jan. 3 and Jan. 7.Report Typo/Error