ISLANDERS (30-13-1) @ CANADIENS (27-13-3)
The Canadiens return to the Bell Centre on Saturday after splitting a short two-game road trip in Columbus and Ottawa.
Coming back from a two-goal deficit with three consecutive power play markers to overcome the Blue Jackets on Wednesday, the Canadiens were bested 4-1 by the Senators most recently on Thursday.
The loss ended a six-game Canadiens road winning streak which dated back to a December 23 win in Long Island just before the holiday break.
Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens’ lone scorer in Ottawa, nevertheless stretched his goal streak to six games, becoming the first Hab to achieve the feat since Denis Savard in 1991. Savard went on to score at least one goal over a span of nine-straight games between February 7 and March 1, 1991.
After 43 games this season, Pacioretty now counts 21 goals and 15 assists to his name.
Head coach Michel Therrien made a number of personnel changes on Saturday after confirming that P.-A. Parenteau will be out of the lineup opposite the Isles. Dale Weise practiced on the top line with Tomas Plekanec and Pacioretty, while Alex Galchenyuk has moved back to the wing, flanking Desharnais and Gallagher.
Still looking for a first win on home ice in 2015, Dustin Tokarski will make a second straight start in goal on Saturday. The 25-year-old netminder will be backed up by veteran Joey MacDonald, who was called up from Hamilton on Friday while Carey Price’s status remains day-to-day (upper body).
On the other side of the ice, Jaroslav Halak should get the call in goal. The former Hab has compiled 23 wins this season, tied for third place among NHL goaltenders.
Winners of a 6-3 effort against the Penguins on Friday, the Islanders will be looking to solidify their lead atop the NHL’s Eastern Conference in Montreal.
Coming off a four-goal performance against the Pens, Kyle Okposo, who is currently ranked second among Islanders point-getters, will be a player to watch on Saturday. With 41 points in 44 games this season, Okposo is just one point shy of John Tavares’ team lead.
Saturday’s game marks Halak’s first with the Islanders opposite Montreal. The Canadiens’ ninth round draft pick in 2003 has gone a perfect 4-0-0 against his former team since being traded in 2010.