The Islanders are playing better hockey since Doug Weight was named interim head coach early last week and are 4-0-1 in their last five games. John Tavares has been the spark plug on offense while Thomas Greiss has been stellar in goal and was named the NHL’s second star of the week ending Jan. 22.
The Canadiens are 2-0-1 in their last three games. They continue to rely on the strong goaltending of Carey Price. Max Pacioretty leads the offensive charge for the Habs while Shea Weber is an impressive plus-19 and already has 11 goals and 30 points. Alexander Radulov leads Montreal in assists and has been a consistent contributor to the offense all season.
The Islanders expect to get Anders Lee (illness) and Anthony Beauvillier (lower body) back in their lineup and will go with Greiss in net. Thomas Hickey will be out tonight with a lower-body injury. The Canadiens will counter with Price who remains the backbone of the team. The Habs will be without Alex Galchenyuk who remains day-to-day after aggravating a knee injury.
Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus, RDS and SNE
2016-17 Season Series: Oct 26: Canadiens 3, Islanders 2
New York Islanders – 20-17-9 – 49 points
Home Record: 14-8-5
Hot Players: John Tavares, Jason Chimera, Nick Leddy, Thomas Greiss
Key Injuries: Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Adam Pelech
Scott Mayfield – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Montreal Canadiens – 29-13-7 – 65 points
Road Record: 12-8-4
Hot Players: Carey Price, Alexander Radulov, Shea Weber
Key Injuries: Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais, Andrei Markov, Alex Galchenyuk
Max Pacioretty – Phillip Danault – Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen – Tomas Plekanec – Paul Byron
Sven Andrighetto – Brian Flynn – Andrew Shaw
Daniel Carr – Jacob De La Rose – Torrey Mitchell
Alexei Emelin – Shea Weber
Nathan Beaulieu – Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio – Zach Redmond
1) The Habs have the league’s third-best power play and will seek to exploit the Islanders’ penalty kill which is ranked just 19th in the league although they have been more effective in recent games. Shea Weber is the unquestioned quarterback of the Canadiens’ power play and the Islanders will have to slow him down if they hope to keep the visitors from scoring with the extra attacker.
2) These two teams contrast sharply in the third period. The Islanders have struggled late in games and have been outscored 55-47 in the final stanza. The Isles have lost several late leads this season although they’ve played better late in games under Weight. The Canadiens have outscored opponents 57-38 in the third period — one of the best goal differentials in the league.
3) The Islanders are John Tavares’ team and it is hardly surprising that the captain has been red-hot during the Islanders recent point streak. Tavares has eight goals and 11 points in his last seven games. The Isles are 5-1-1 in those games.
4) The Canadiens have dominated the series between these two teams recently. They are 9-1-0 in the last 10 meetings between the clubs with one win coming in overtime. The last time the Islanders defeated the Habs was April 10, 2014, when Evgeni Nabokov blanked Montreal 2-0.
5) Tomas Plekanec has enjoyed playing the Islanders throughout his career. In 41 games against the Isles, the veteran center has 18 goals and 42 points.
The Islanders need to continue to win if they hope to keep pace in the crowded race for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have momentum since the coaching change and would like to keep it going heading into the All-Star break.
The Canadiens have an eight-point lead in the Atlantic Division, but second-place Ottawa has three games in hand and the Habs wants to maintain a comfortable lead before the All-Star weekend gets under way. Montreal has dominated the series recently, but the Isles hope their recent momentum reverses that trend.