With a win this evening the Canadiens can accomplish two things. First of all the Habs would increase their breathing room over the ninth place Atlanta Thrashers and secondly jump into a tie with the sixth place Tampa Bay Lightning. For the Islanders a win tonight would lift them into a tie with the tenth pace Florida Panthers and just six points out of the playoffs, a loss however would be devastating as they could find them ten points out of the playoffs with only ten games remaining on their schedule.
Just a week ago the Islanders were victorious over the Canadiens by a 3-1 count. Rick DiPietro made thirty-six saves. The only puck that did find its way past DiPietro was during a five on three power play for the Canadiens. Cristobal Huet on the other hand had one of his weaker games of the season as he allowed three goals on just twenty five shots. The Canadiens are hoping that Andrei Markov will be the difference maker in tonight’s game; he was unable to play a week ago due to his back spasms. The Montreal Canadiens have won six straight games with Markov in the line-up.
It is expected that Rick DiPietro will be back in goal for the Islanders this evening. DiPietro has a 2-3 record against the Canadiens in his young career. Cristobal Huet will be between the pipes for the Canadiens. Huet who was runner up for the defensive player of the week and is still the owner of the NHL’s best save percentage has lost only once in regulation on home ice this season
The Montreal Canadiens have not used the same line up for consecutive games since March 6th in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Sunday Aaron Downey, Todd Simpson and Mike Ribeiro were given the night off in favor of Jan Bulis, Mark Streit and Niklas Sundstrom. It will be interesting to see if Bob Gainey tweaks the line up yet again. Jan Bulis recorded a -2 rating but delivered an instrumental body check that eventually resulted in an Alex Kovalev goal. Niklas Sundstrom had a +1 rating and added an assist against
Last night the sixth pace Tampa Bay Lightning were beaten by the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 preventing them from increasing their current two point lead over the Canadiens. The New Jersey Devils who the Canadiens are currently tied with are visiting the Eastern Conference leading Ottawa Senators tonight;
2. The Montreal Canadiens have scored at least five goals in three consecutive games. If the Habs can pop at least four more tonight it would be the first time they have accomplished the feat since the 1992-1993 season.
3. Alex Kovalev has recorded points in all but two of his last fifteen games; during that span he has 17 points.