NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 10th (All times eastern)
New York Islanders (17-29-7) at Montreal Canadiens (30-20-5), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens missed their chance to move into a tie for first place in the Northeast Division last night, but the Habs will try to rebound this evening when they host the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens trailed Boston by two points heading into Wednesday's road game against the Bruins, but the first-place club extended its lead atop the Northeast with a wild 8-6 victory at TD Garden. Nathan Horton posted a goal and four assists to lead Boston on offense.
Max Pacioretty scored twice while Brian Gionta, P.K. Subban and David Desharnais had a goal and assist each for the Canadiens, who have lost two in a row after winning three straight.
"It's always passionate and always emotional when we play each other," said Gionta, who recorded the 200th goal of his career in the loss. "Obviously today was a big game cause it was important points on the line. We just didn't do enough to win."
Montreal goaltender Carey Price allowed eight goals for the first time in his career on 34 shots.
Despite falling four points behind the Bruins in the Northeast Division, the Canadiens are still sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Habs are three points behind Washington for the fifth seed and three ahead of the New York Rangers.
Tonight's tilt marks the first of three straight on home ice for the Canadiens, who are 18-7-4 at the Bell Centre this season. Montreal will welcome Toronto on Saturday before hosting Buffalo on Tuesday.
The Islanders, meanwhile, enter tonight with big questions in net as yet another New York goaltender has succumbed to injury.
New York announced Wednesday that rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin will require season-ending surgery to repair a dislocated left knee cap. The 20-year-old was injured during warm-ups Tuesday night when his left skate caught a divot in the ice. He gingerly skated off the ice with the help of trainers.
Mikko Koskinen made his NHL debut in place of Poulin Tuesday against the Maple Leafs and the Isles lost the 5-3 decision. It was the fifth loss in seven games for the Islanders.
With Rick DiPietro, Nathan Lawson and now Poulin on the shelf and veteran Evgeni Nabokov refusing to report to the club, Koskinen, a 22-year-old Finn, and the untested Joel Martin are the only healthy netminders on the roster.
Tomas Kaberle, Nikolai Kulemin and Fredrik Sjostrom each tallied third-period goals to give Toronto the win over the Isles . Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner and Rob Schremp each scored for the Islanders, while Koskinen turned away 21- of-26 shots.
"I thought he played well," Moulson said of Koskinen. "We didn't help him out much. He made some big saves."
The Isles, who are last in the Eastern Conference with 41 points, are 8-16-3 on the road this season.
New York will try to earn a split in the season series with Montreal tonight. The Canadiens won the first two encounters before the Isles notched a 4-1 home win over the Habs on Dec. 26. Montreal has still taken six of eight overall in the series and the Isles have dropped three in a row and six of eight at the Bell Centre.
02/10 10:48:32 ET