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New York Islanders @ Montreal Canadiens

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Team Record: 9-12-6

Last Game: 6-3 L vs. PIT
Season Series: 1-0-0 of 4
Team Record: 12-11-7
Last Game: 2-1 W @ NJD
Season Series: 0-1-0 of 4
Milan Jurcina
The Isles Slovakian blue liner has started to heat up. He scored two power play goals in the last three games, when he'd recorded just three assists in the 24 games prior.

"We have had a lot of chances on the power play, we had like five or six shots a game in the last ten games," said Jurcina, who has made an effort to shoot more pucks, leading all defensemen with 19 shots in the last seven games. "It's good to finally get a goal early and just keep thinking positive. I'm hoping to help the team a little more offensively."

Paired with defenseman Steve Staios, Jurcina's ice time has increased from 15-16 minutes a night to 19:30 or more in the last four games. While his time on the penalty kill has increased, he's found his niche on the power play.
New Arrivals
Traded to the Canadiens on Friday, the Tomas Kaberle made an impact in his Montreal debut on Saturday. He assisted on both of the Canadien's goals to help them snap a two-game winless streak, and helped ignite the team's struggling power play, which ranks 28th in the league with an 11.8% success rate.

Erik Cole had a goal and an assist in Montreal's last two games (four points), including the game-winning goal at the Prudential Center on Saturday night, tapping in a loose rebound off Kaberle's shot through the slot. He also elevated the Canadiens to a three-goal lead Thursday night before they dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Canucks. The 33-year-old Oswego, NY native is in his first season with the Canadiens after signing as a free agent on July 1.
Though the Canadiens have earned points in their last three games, the team has only won two of their last eight, taking home a 2-2-4 record in that span. With just four home wins this season, the Canadiens will be on fire at the Bell Centre, while the Isles look to extend their three-game road win streak.

Coming off a loss to the Penguins, the Isles first regulation loss in a seven-game span, the Islanders are determined to start the game with a lot of energy.

"We’ve been playing some good hockey, but our basics are hard work and to grind games out," Islanders Captain Mark Streit said. "We just have to be a on top of our game every shift and I thought we just felt too comfortable (against Pittsburgh). Anywhere in life if you feel too comfortable, get complacent, not a lot of good things happen. If you work hard and stay on top of our game, stick to our game plan, we’re tough to beat. We don’t have the luxury to win games with half-efforts."

After scoring just one power play goal on 13 opportunities in these last three games, the Islanders took a large part of Monday's practice to work on special teams.

"Those situations are crucial, a lot of times they make the difference between winning and losing," Streit said. "You have to work on the power play, even if it works, even if it’s pretty successful. You still have to work on it and the PK as well. All the games are so tight and just small things make the difference between losing and winning."

He continued, "I think the power play has been okay lately, but personally I would like to see our PP in the top 10 of the league. That should be our goal, our mindset. I understand there is a lot of games, we’ve had a lot of games lately and it’s tough to get good, quality practices in, but I’m happy we took advantage today and worked on it."
Season series: This will be the second of four meetings this season. The Islanders scored a 4-3 victory on Nov. 17 in Uniondale, N.Y., when goalie Rick DiPietro stopped 24 of 27 shots in relief of injured starter Evgeni Nabokov. Matt Moulson's goal 18:15 into the second held up as the winner. Montreal is 12-2-4 in its last 18 meetings with New York, but the Islanders have won the last three.

Big story: Both clubs are just looking to keep pace with the rest of the conference in an attempt to qualify for the playoffs. The Canadiens are 2-2-4 in their last eight games and stand ninth in the East with 31 points. Montreal is surprisingly having greater success on the road (8-6-1) than at home (4-5-6), where it has lost their last four contests. The Islanders are 4-1-2 in their last seven and are 14th in the East with 24 points. New York is 3-5-3 away from Nassau Coliseum in 2011-12.

Team Scope:
The Islanders suffered a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday -- their first loss in regulation since Nov. 25. David Ullstrom and Milan Jurcina scored to give the Isles a 2-0 lead less than 13 minutes into the game, but the Penguins would score four of the next five goals. According to Newsday, forward Nino Niederreiter is improving after suffering a concussion on Dec. 3 following an illegal hit by Dallas' Mark Fistric. (Continue Reading)

The Islanders scored four second period goals against the Canadiens at Nassau Coliseum en route to a 4-3 win on Nov. 17. Quebec native PA Parenteau opened the scoring 41 seconds in and Matt Moulson closed it at 18:15. Jay Pandolfo scored his 100th career goal and Captain Mark Streit also scored against his former team. The Isles hung on for the win after a late goal from Brian Gionta and a furious Habs surge. - By Cory Wright
Date of
Games Missed Prognosis
DiPietro 12/03 Groin strain 3 No timetable
Eaton 11/21 Knee 9 6 weeks
Katic 9/24 Shoulder 27 out indef.
MacDonald 11/29 Right leg 5 2-4 weeks
Niederreiter 12/03 Concussion 3 No timetable
Pandolfo 11/26 Broken foot 6 4-6 weeks
Power Play %: 17.4%
Penalty Kill %: 80.8%
Home Record: 6-7-3
Road Record:
Goals For: 62
Goals Against: 88
Power Play %: 11.8%
Penalty Kill %: 89.3%
Home Record: 4-5-6
Road Record: 8-6-1
Goals For: 74
Goals Against: 77
(Answer from 12/10: The Islanders scored 11 goals on the Penguins in an 11-3 win on Dec. 20, 1983 and have won by nine goals seven times, including two against the Pens 9-0 on Oct. 14, 1982 and Jan. 9, 1986.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. Head Coach Jack Capuano said that Al Montoya gets the start in net, Evgeni Nabokov will back up. Islanders lines will stay the same as there are no extra skaters.

Canadiens (Expected) Lineups
Forwards: Cammalleri-Plekanec-Leblanc, Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole, Moen-Eller-Kostitsyn, Darche-Nokelainen-Weber

Gorges-Subban, Gill-Diaz, Emelin-Kaberle

Price, Budaj

Expected scratches:
Campoli, Gionta

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano on the Isles loss to Pittsburgh: "We played a lot of hockey in 10 days, but it’s no excuse. The one thing is our work ethic and our urgency. For whatever reason we didn’t respond after that five minute major and we were right there against a quality team. We knew that team was desperate, we knew they had lost a couple guys, knew that team was depleted in their lineup. That’s the mind boggling part of it, that we didn’t have that work ethic or urgency for the last 35 minutes of that game that we needed."

Cory Wright contributed to this report
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