The Islanders kick off their final road trip of the season tonight in Montreal. The Islanders are looking for their first win over the Habs this season, after going 0-1-1 in the first two meetings this season.
The injury-riddled Islanders were dealt another blow on Tuesday, as Cal Clutterbuck left the game with an upper-body injury. Clutterbuck will not play tonight in Montreal, meaning emergency callup Johan Sundstrom will draw into the lineup. With Sundstrom, the Islanders will dress 11 rookies for tonight’s game, but the youth movement has found success, as the Islanders are 5-2-2 in their last nine games.
While the rookies compete for roster spots in 2014-15, the Canadiens are playing for home-ice advantage in their first round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Tonight also marks the first meeting between the Islanders and Thomas Vanek since he was dealt at the March 5 trade deadline. Vanek is finding his groove with the Canadiens, having scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last six games. The Austrian star had 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 47 games with the Islanders.
Ahead of tonight’s game, the Islanders held a full morning skate at Centre Bell. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.
Clutterbuck Out: Cal Clutterbuck will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury.
Injuried Islanders: Capuano says that none of the injured Islanders will be back this season.
Strome Plays Wing: Ryan Strome is expected to play in Cal Clutterbuck’s spot on the Islanders second line with Brock Nelson.
Nabokov Off First: Head coach Jack Capuano did not confirm a starting goaltender tonight. Evgeni Nabokov was the first goalie off the ice on Thursday and was in goal during the Islanders 1-0 overtime loss to the Habs on December 14.
Bailey: Josh Bailey is one point shy of setting a new career high. Bailey has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his last six games and 35 points (eight goals, 27 assists) this season.
Habs PK: The Canadiens have the NHL’s third-ranked penalty kill with an 85.5% conversion rate.
Habs P.K.: P.K Subban has 53 points (10 goals, 43 assists) in 70 games for the bleu, blanc et rouge this season. The reigning Norris Trophy winner is tied for fifth in defensive scoring.
Spreading the Scoring: The Canadiens have nine players with at least 10 goals. Max Pacioretty leads the team with 39 while recent acquisition Thomas Vanek has six in his first 15 games with the Habs.