The Montreal Canadiens came out on the wrong side of a 6-3 score against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, but a third period goal by Brian Gionta was a monumental one for one of the NHL’s most storied franchises. The power play goal that Gionta put past Islanders netminder Evgeni Nabokov just over six minutes into the third period was the 20,000th goal scored by the Canadiens since the NHL was formed. P.K. Subban and Michael Ryder assisted on the historical tally, but the milestone was overshadowed by three straight Islanders goals and the team’s first regulation loss since Feb. 6.
The goal was Gionta’s seventh of the season and the Canadiens got a three point (goal, two assists) night from Subban, a goal from Tomas Plekanec and two assists from Ryder as well. Radek Martinek scored the eventual game-winner for the Islanders just over a minute after Gionta’s goal, and John Tavares and Colin McDonald would later score to put the game out of reach.
The goal was Gionta’s 72nd with the Canadiens, which barely puts him in the top 100 all-time for the franchise. The list of goal leaders for Montreal reads like a who’s who roster for the Hall of Fame: Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Bernie Geoffrion and Henri Richard all scored more than 350 goals each while wearing the red, white and blue. Plekanec’s 152 goals place him 37th on the franchise’s all-time list, highest among active players still with the team. Ryder’s next goal will be his 100th as a Canadien and give the team yet another milestone to celebrate this season.