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Slumping Islanders visit struggling Canadiens

Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 11:40 AM

ISLANDERS (6-8-3) at CANADIENS (8-8-1)

TV: RDS, MSG PLUS 2, TSN-HABS

Last 10: New York 3-6-1; Montreal 3-6-1

Season series: This is the first of three meetings between the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. They will face each other again on Dec. 14 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big story: The Islanders conclude what has been a dreadful four-game road trip against the Canadiens, who are winless in four games this month. New York has yet to pick up any points on its trip, losing to the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets, all in regulation.

Team Scope:

Islanders: The struggles continued for the Islanders on Saturday night, when they suffered a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Frans Nielsen and Thomas Hickey scored for New York, but Evgeni Nabokov allowed four goals on 28 shots. Nabokov's goals-against average inflated to 3.24, while his save percentage dropped to .894.

Backup goalie Kevin Poulin will get the start for the Islanders in Montreal, his hometown.

"For whatever reason we're struggling to get to the way we need to play, but we have to figure it out soon here," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said.

The Islanders have been outscored 12-4 in the three losses on their trip.

Canadiens: Much like the Islanders, the Canadiens have been plagued by inconsistency. Offense has been a problem; Montreal has scored two or fewer goals in three straight games and six of the past seven. They know that's not good enough.

"We've scored one or two goals per game in the last five games," forward Rene Bourque told the Canadiens' website Saturday. "You might be able to win one or two if our goalie steals the game, but it's tough to win a lot scoring so little.

"Offensively, we need to get more bodies in front of the net and look for second and third opportunities. It starts in our own end, breaking out with speed, taking it wide and getting shots through. We're getting a lot of our shots blocked right now, so that's a big factor."

Who's hot: Nielsen scored his team-leading ninth goal of the season Saturday. … Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has a four-game point streak (one goal, four assists).

Injury report: Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek is out after suffering an upper-body injury on the first shift Saturday. Defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee), center Daniel Briere (concussion), left wing Brandon Prust (upper body) and defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder surgery) are out.

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