ISLANDERS (6-9-1) at CANADIENS (11-4-1)
TV: RDS, MSG PLUS 2, TSN-HABS
Last 10: Islanders 3-7-0, Montreal 7-2-1.
Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the clubs. Both teams won twice last season.
Big story: It's a meeting of two teams going in opposite directions. The Islanders have lost two in a row and seven of their last nine overall, while the Canadiens are riding a five-game winning streak.
Islanders: The Islanders arrived in Montreal on Wednesday and enjoyed a day off after a 3-1 loss in Ottawa on Tuesday. They sit 29th in the NHL in goals against per game (3.56) and their points percentage of .406 has them ranked 26th in the League.
But while general manager Garth Snow is not happy with what he's seen from his club, he made it clear Wednesday that help would not be coming in the form of a trade or even a minor-league call-up in an interview with Newsday.
So the players under coach Jack Capuano's charge now will need to figure out a way to right the ship themselves.
"The group we have [on the Islanders] has won games this year and looked good doing it at times," Snow told Newsday's Arthur Staple. "If we call someone up, it'll be based on what we need at that position at a given time. We made some waiver claims at the start of the season to bolster our depth and we think that's helped with the development of our prospects in Bridgeport."
Canadiens: Coach Michel Therrien also gave his players Wednesday off, but he had good reason to coming off the club's fifth straight win on Tuesday.
The 3-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden cemented Montreal's status as one of the NHL's top defensive clubs. The Canadiens have allowed all of two goals in their last four games, with each of their goalies playing two apiece. They rank fourth in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals for and against ratio (1.40), shots against per game (26.6) and goals against per game (2.12).
Also, after showing a tendency to crumble in the third period earlier in the season, allowing 14 goals in the final period through their first 12 games and scoring just six, the Canadiens have scored seven times and allowed none in the final 20 minutes over their past four contests.
Who's hot: For the Islanders, just about the entire team has struggled offensively with just one goal in the last two games. But prior to that, John Tavares had seven goals and two assists in his previous five games and Matt Moulson had three goals and four assists in his previous three games. … For the Canadiens, linemates Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust each have points in their last two games, including hooking up for the game-winner against the Rangers.
Injury report: The Islanders put defenseman Brian Strait (ankle) on injured reserve, where he joins fellow defenseman Matt Carkner. Radek Martinek was activated from the injured list two games ago but still has not played. … Canadiens rookie forward Brendan Gallagher suffered a concussion Saturday and missed the last two games, while center Petteri Nokelainen (back), a former Islander, is on injured reserve.
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