CANADIENS 5, ISLANDERS 3
LI's Canadiens haunt Islanders
Smithtown's Higgins scores 2, Islip Terrace's Komisarek is solid
BY ALAN HAHN
March 1, 2006
Chris Higgins had the puck on his stick and the intention of capping
an unforgettable night as he headed toward the Islanders net. With
two goals already in his pocket, the 22-year-old Montreal Canadien
from Smithtown missed his first career hat trick by the measure of
"That's all I gave him," Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro snapped. "The
Plenty of Canadiens pucks found the net as the Islanders lost, 5-3,
last night at Nassau Coliseum.
It wasn't the important first step the Islanders had hoped to make
toward a playoff run. The loss dropped the Islanders eight points
behind Montreal (62 points) for the final playoff spot in the East.
An announced crowd of 12,877 included a few hundred Habs fans, as
Higgins and fellow Long Islander Mike Komi.sarek, a Canadiens
defenseman who is from Islip Terrace, combined to buy more than 250
tickets. Higgins had to pay for only four because his contingent was
largely made up of firemen, like his dad, who took advantage of a
ticket offer at the Coliseum for area firemen. Komisarek, however,
paid for 166 out of his own pocket.
"I think the next time around, a lot of those people are going to be
on their own," Komisarek, who was plus-1 in 16:53 of ice time, said
with a smile.
Every game at the Coliseum is special for the two, who grew up
together playing in the Suffolk PAL program and were later first-
round Canadiens picks -- Komisarek in 2001 and Higgins in 2002.
But don't expect much nostalgia from either when it comes to the
Coliseum. Both were born at the tail end of the Islanders' Stanley
"They weren't too good when I was here," Higgins said. "They had some
tough years in the early '90s. It seemed like their fans were always
on them. When I was growing up, they didn't have such good teams and
they weren't too popular around the Island."
They aren't going to conjure any emotional response in the present,
either, if they can't make up some serious ground in the playoff
race. Last night provided a perfect opportunity to close to within
four points, but goalie Cristobal Huet (32 saves) was tough early and
the Islanders penalty kill surrendered three power-play goals.
Though the Islanders dominated the first period, Huet made several
big stops -- including two on Oleg Kvasha -- and Alexander Perezhogin
slipped a shot past Garth Snow at 11:48 on a power play to give
Montreal a 1-0 lead.
Huet stopped all 15 shots he faced in the second period, and the
Canadiens scored twice more, from a Craig Rivet point shot at 15:55
on the power play and Higgins' shot to the short side with 41.4
seconds left in the period.
Mark Parrish finally got one past Huet with a rebound on the power
play two minutes into the third to make it 3-1, but Montreal scored
twice more -- Michael Ryder on a five-on-three power play and Higgins
shorthanded -- to make it 5-1 at 8:34 of the third.
Miroslav Satan scored two late goals to make it close.
DiPietro replaced Snow in the third period and allowed two goals on
nine shots. He did not start the game because he said he was still
tired from the Olympics. Islanders interim coach Brad Shaw went with
Snow (10 saves), though he did admit he would have rather have had
DiPietro ready to go for such an important game.
"You always want your best players on the ice," Shaw said. "He's
proven he can win games and be a factor in games."
Higgins was named the game's No. 1 star.
"It seems like every time we play someone who's from here or who has
played here, they have big nights," DiPietro said. "It's good for
him. He's a great kid ... Hopefully he can continue it, just not