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Game Preview: Islanders @ Canadiens

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

CANADIENS (8-8-1) vs. ISLANDERS (6-8-3)

The Canadiens square off against the New York Islanders on Sunday night at the Bell Centre looking to snap a season-high four-game winless streak.

On Thursday night in Ottawa, the Habs opened the scoring with an Andrei Markov one-timer on the power play, but were undone by four successive goals against. Senators goaltender Robin Lehner turned aside 33 of 34 shots, while Carey Price made 20 saves.

With an assist on Markov’s goal, defenseman P.K. Subban solidified his position as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points (3G, 13G) in 17 games. Subban is currently riding a four-game point streak. Tomas Plekanec (6G, 6A) leads all forwards in points while, Brendan Gallagher (7G, 3A) paces the Habs in goals.

Head coach Michel Therrien announced after Saturday’s practice that both Alexei Emelin and Daniel Briere are close to returning from their injuries. Neither, however, will play against the Islanders.

Long Island will close out a four-game road trip on Sunday night. The Islanders dropped a 5-2 decision on Saturday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Frans Nielsen and Thomas Hickey scored for the Islanders, who have lost three in row.

New arrival Thomas Vanek, acquired from Buffalo in exchange for 30-goal man Matt Moulson, has three points in five games since joining the Isles. The Austrian has been averaging over three shots on goal per game this season and is the team's primary scoring threat alongside franchise centerman John Tavares. Vanek's presence in Sunday night's game is questionable as he was forced to leave the tilt against Columbus after sustaining an upper-body injury on his first shift.

Two-way forward Cal Clutterbuck is day-to-day with an upper body injury, while defensemen Brian Strait and Lubomir Visnovsky are on injury reserve. In the absence of Visnovsky, look for the Islanders to rely even more on shutdown defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic, who already log heavy minutes.

Sunday’s game will be the first of three games between the Canadiens and Islanders this season. The Habs go in search of their first home win against the Isles since 2011.

Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST.

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