The Canadiens lost consecutive games for the first time last night in New Jersey dropping a 2-1 decision to the Devils in overtime. Tonight the Habs are in Uniondale NY to play the Islanders for the first time this season. Last year the Canadiens had success against the Islander winning three of four meetings, but the Islanders have been given a major face lift by head coach Ted Nolan. Last year the Islanders were a below .500 hockey team, this year they are in contention to win the division.
Despite recent injury troubles the Islanders have won two of their last three. Leading scorer Alexei Yashin will be out at least another two weeks with a knee injury, Trent Hunter will be out with a similar injury for most of December. The Islanders did get some good news though as Rick Dipietro is expected to be back in goal for the Islander this evening.
Despite allowing the game winning goal last night the Canadiens remain with the leagues number one penalty kill, the Habs also rank fourth on the power play. The Islanders on the other hand struggle a little more on special teams ranking fifteenth on the power play and twenty-fifth on the penalty kill. ON the even strength side of things the Islanders are the more dominate team ranking fourth overall in five on five production, the Habs are only better than six clubs in that category.
Radek Bonk, Mike Johnson and Alexander Perezhogin have been the best line for the Canadiens all season long at both ends of the ice. Tonight their challenge will be to shut down Victor Kozlov who has seven goals and two assists in his last five games. Kozlov was bumped to the first line after Yashin was injured.
Cristobal Huet will be back in goal for the Canadiens tonight, he was pulled for the first time all year on Monday night after allowing the Bruins to score four times on sixteen shots. Huet has a 2-1-1 record all time against the Islanders, while Dipietro has a 2-4 record against the Canadiens.
1. The Canadiens will miss Chris Higgins tonight, last year he scored four goals against his hometown club.
2. Special teams were important for the Canadiens last season against the Islanders, the Habs scored six power play goals and added a pair of shorthanded goals in their four meetings.
3. Tonight’s game is the 125th all time regular season meeting between the Islander and Canadiens.
4. Miroslav Satan scored four times against the Canadiens last year twice on the power play and twice even strength.
5. Andrei Markov once again proved his worth to the Canadiens when he missed last nights game. Last year with Markov out of the line-up the Canadiens were 3-13 this year they are 0-1. Guy Carbonneau must be hoping he will recover from the flu and be ready to go for tonight.