The ninth place New York Islanders arrive at the Bell Centre to face the fourth place Montreal Canadiens following back to back victories against the rival New York Rangers. Three goals in the first 3 minutes of action powered the Isles to a 5-4 victory on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum. Mark Parrish scored a couple, including the game winner, and ex-Hab Arron Asham added a goal and an assist. This victory came the night after a tight shootout win at MSG, leaving the Isles with two wins in two nights against the hated Rangers.
The Habs, meanwhile, have been off since Tuesday night where they battled with rivals of their own, the Boston Bruins. Montreal charged back from a couple of first period Bruin goals to take the win 4-3. Alexei Kovalev continued his strong play with 3 assists and the Habs 2nd trio experienced a min-revival sans healthy scratch Pierre Dagenais. The much-maligned Dagenais will get another shot to prove himself tonight, however, as Niklas Sundstrom will be out of the lineup tonight, joining teammate Richard Zednik with a groin stain. Raitis Ivanans will join them in the press box as he continues to be sidelined with a broken orbital bone stemming from his fight against Zdeno Chara last week. The Islanders only injury of note is to Shawn Bates as the Isles forward will miss his 5th straight contest with a hip injury. Look for Mathieu Dandenaults to play on the 4th line, but see some action on the backend, primarily in PK situations.
Montreal has an all-time record of 60-45-15 against the Islanders, including a record of 36-15-9 when at home. Jose Theodore has a life-time 1.80 GAA against the Atlantic division foes, including 4 shutouts. Alex Kovalev leads all Habs with 52 points in 63 games against the Islanders, while Radek Bonk has posted an impressive 29 points in 33 games. Islanders captain Alexei Yashin has been a Habs-killer throughout his career, notching 49 points in 45 career games against Le Tricolore, including 27 goals. With two career starts against the Canadiens, Isles netminder Rick Dipietro has a record of 1-1 with a GAA of 2.00. The teams split the 2003-2004 season series, with the home team winning all four games.
NY Islanders Top Scorers
Goals: Jason Blake (4)
Assists: Brent Sopel (5)
Points: Alexei Yashin (7)
Montreal Canadiens Top Scorers
Goals: Michael Ryder (4)
Assists: Alex Kovalev (8)
Points: Alex Kovalev (9)
Rick DiPietro: 3-2, 3.06 GAA, .908 SV%
Jose Theodore: 4-2, 3.01 GAA, .876 SV%
The Week Ahead:
Tuesday: Philiadelphia @ Montreal, 7:30pm
Thursday: Montreal @ Ottawa, 7:30pm
Saturday: NY Rangers @ Montreal, 7:00pm