Islanders at Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens have rebounded from their worst loss of the season to win five in a row and seize the Northeast Division lead. On Thursday, Montreal will try to match its longest winning streak since March 2010 when it hosts the New York Islanders. Carey Price returned from a two-game, flu-induced absence on Tuesday to make 24 saves in a 3-1 road win over the New York Rangers. Peter Budaj allowed one goal on 38 shots in the two games Price missed, and the Canadiens have outscored their opponents 15-5 since dropping a 6-0 decision at home to Toronto on Feb. 9.
The Islanders have been outscored 10-1 in their last two games, losing 7-0 to Philadelphia at home on Monday afternoon and dropping a 3-1 decision at Ottawa on Tuesday. Rick DiPietro made his third start of the season in the loss to Ottawa after Evgeni Nabokov allowed all seven goals on Monday. DiPietro has permitted 12 goals in his three starts. John Tavares, who leads New York with 20 points, had seven goals and nine points as part of a five-game scoring streak before the two losses. Ten of Tavares' 20 points have come on the power play and the Islanders are 1-7-0 when they fail to score with the man advantage.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, RDS, MSG Plus, TSN Canadiens
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (6-9-1): Nabokov is 6-6-1 in 13 starts this season, with a goals-against average of 3.13 and a .894 save percentage. Defenseman Brian Strait, who left Monday’s game with a broken left ankle, is the only player on the team with a positive plus/minus. Strait is plus-3. Matt Moulson has seven goals and 17 points on the season. Michael Grabner has six goals, but only two in his last 10 games. Matt Martin has a team-leading 62 hits, while defenseman Andrew MacDonald has blocked a team-leading 40 shots.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (11-4-1): Max Pacioretty, who scored his first two goals of the season in his last two games, has five points in the last three. Tomas Plekanec has scored in two of the last three contests and leads the team with eight goals and 13 points. Rookie Alex Galchenyuk has three points in his last four games and 10 on the season. Defenseman Josh Gorges has a team-leading 42 blocked shots. Montreal has successfully killed 15 of 16 penalties on its winning streak and hasn’t allowed a power-play goal in four games.
1. The Canadiens won four straight after losing 2-1 at home to Toronto in the season-opener.
2. The Islanders are 1-3-0 against Northeast Division opponents this season.
3. Montreal rookie Brendan Gallagher (five goals, three assists) has missed two games with a concussion.
PREDICTION: Canadiens 2, Islanders 0