Game Preview: Islanders Head North Looking For Revenge

It was only a few short weeks ago that the Montreal Canadiens and their contingent of rowdy fans stormed into the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and halted an Islanders 4 game-winning streak with a 3-1 victory.  Fast-forward to tonight and the Islanders (30-13-1) are on another 4 game winning streak, and once again are set to square off against the Canadiens (27-13-3).  Only difference is, the Isles and their raucous supporters are traveling north of the border looking to extend the streak to 5.

The Islanders are coming off of an impressive 6-3 victory last night against their Metropolitan division rivals, Penguins, at home.  The Isles trailed 2-0 and 3-2, until Kyle Okposo and his four goals sunk the Pens in the 3rd period.  Josh Bailey called the atmosphere at the Coliseum “like a night club out there at the end the way the music was going and everyone was into the cheers.”  It was the Islanders first game at home since 12/29 and though they’ve been a force at home, they have fared quite well on the road too.

The Isles are 15-9-1 away from Long Island this season and historically have been a better road team throughout the Garth Snow era.  The Canadiens come in with a 13-5-2 home record, but are just 1-2-1 and their prized goalie Carey Price will sit out his second straight game with an upper body injury.  Dustin Tokarski will start in net with recently called up, former Islander, Joey MacDonald serving as the back-up.  Jack Capuano will most likely counter with his back-up, Chad Johnson, after Jaroslav Halak started last night but that will be determined when the coach speaks tonight at 5pm.

Cappy and company having been rolling 4 lines consistently and with a 4-1-0 record on the second half of back to backs this season, the Islanders look to continue the trend versus a vulnerable opponent.

The only question is, which teams crazy stat will hold up tonight?  The Canadiens have an NHL leading .889% winning percentage when they score first.  The Islanders have an NHL leading .778% winning percentage when trailing first.  Insane, but something has to give.

Puck drop is on for 7:00pmEST at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  It can be seen on MSG+ and heard on WRHU88.7FM/WRCN103.9FM.

Islanders 3 Keys to the Game:

1.  Slow down Max Pacioretty.  With goals in his last six contests, the Connecticut born Pacioretty, is truly become an emerging star in the NHL.  The defense must have a game plan specifically for the talented top line winger as he is the spark plug of this explosive offense.

2.  Dustin Tokarski.  The Isles have been shooting the puck all season and getting second chances against goaltenders, this is a trend they must continue against the unproven young netminder who has a weak blocker side.

3.  Win the 5-5.  The Islanders tend to rely on the man advantage a lot, but tonight will be difficult against one of the top penalty killing units in the league.  Montreal is ranked 6th in the NHL with a 85.1% kill rate.  They must take care of business at even strength.

 

Projected Lineup (According to Dailyfaceoff.com):

12 Bailey-91 Tavares(C)-21 Okposo(A)

17 Lee-51 Nielsen(A)-18 Strome

40 Grabner-29 Nelson-86 Kulemin

17 Martin-53 Cizikas-15 Clutterbuck

44-de Hann-3 Hamonic

2 Leddy-55 Boychuck

14 Hickey-37 Strait

30 Johnson

41 Halak

 

-Chad DeCarlo

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