New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens
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Coming in off two straight wins, the New York Islanders (3-3-0) battle the NHL's top team, the 5-0-1 Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens have an NHL-best 11 points, the only team without a regulation loss and lead the league in goals for (3.83) and goals against per game (1.50). Wednesday's contest kicks off a back-to-back set for the Islanders, who head to Pittsburgh on Thursday for a divisional match against the Penguins.
Nikolay Kulemin Day-to-Day:
Nikolay Kulemin left Tuesday's practice and is considered day-to-day by head coach Jack Capuano. The coach said Kulemin left because of soreness, the result of an injury he suffered in Sunday's win over the Minnesota Wild.
Shane Prince (lower body) skated again on Tuesday, but Capuano did not say whether he'd go into the lineup if Kulemin couldn't play. Prince would also have to come off of injured reserve in order to play.
Anthony Beauvillier Tied For Team Points Lead:
Rookie Anthony Beauvillier is tied for the Islanders team lead with five points (1G, 4A) this season, despite only averaging 9:29 TOI per game. Beauvillier, the Islanders' 2015 first-rounder, is tied for sixth in rookie scoring.
"I think the game has slowed down for him now," head coach Jack Capuano said. "The first couple of games, the first couple of shifts, everything is happening so fast, but the way he's playing now mentally, he's at a pace and sees the game differently."
Beauvillier's exciting month continues, as the Sorel-Tracy, QC, native - a 40-minute drive from Montreal - is set to face his hometown team for the first time.
"It's going to be nice playing against those guys. I feel like I've known them since I was young, so it's going to be special," Beauvillier said.
Video: MIN@NYI: Hickey goes top shelf to beat Kuemper
Offense From the Defense:
Islanders' defensemen have made a sizable offensive contribution of late, scoring five goals over the teams past two games. Five of the Islanders' six defensemen now have goals and Johnny Boychuk has goals in back-to-back games.
"It's always been a part of our offense, having a fourth man involved," Capuano said. "We've got some goals from our back end, it's helped. Throughout our video and our meetings were before the season started what our goals and expectations were from our back end I think they've really grasped it. They're doing a good job back there and we need that."
How important are the contributions from the blue line? Last season, the Islanders were 18-8-3 when a defenseman scored and seven of the eight teams that made the playoffs in the Eastern Conference got at least 30 goals from their defense.
Shea Weber Excelling For Montreal:
The Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators shocked the NHL this summer, staging a blockbuster trade that sent Shea Weber to Montreal and PK Subban to Nashville.
Given Subban's popularity in Montreal, this trade generated it's fair share of controversy in Quebec, but so far Weber has delivered for la bleu, blanc et rouge. Weber leads the Habs with seven points (2G, 5A) in six games and has five points (2G, 3A) on his current three-game point streak.
The 6'4, 232 lbs. defenseman gives the Canadiens a different look on the back end, bringing more of a defensive focus to compliment his booming shot. Weber's insertion was part of the Canadiens get-tough makeover this summer that also included trading for Andrew Shaw.
Montoya To Start For Canadiens:
Former-Islander Al Montoya is getting the start for the Canadiens on Wednesday night according to LHN.com's Arpon Basu. While the Islanders won't be facing Carey Price, Montoya has been lights out this season, going 2-0-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage and one shutout. Montoya is 3-0-0 against the Islanders in his career.