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New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
Team Record: 4-8-3

Last Game: 4-2 L vs. NYR
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 4
Team Record: 8-7-3
Last Game: 4-0 W vs. CAR
Season Series: 0-0-0 of 4
Matt Moulson
Known for skating to the dirty areas, screening the goaltender and knocking in some gritty rebounds or deflections, Moulson has become a staple on the Islanders top line.

"He gives me some space and tries to find the open areas," Islanders center John Tavares said. "He’s really good at winning the 1-on-1 battles and gets the puck to me and goes straight to the net. I don’t even have to look, I just know that he’s going to be around there and with how good his hands and stick work is, he’ll find a way to get some contact on the puck. He’s got a great touch so it goes in most of the time."

Playing with Tavares for the third year running, the duo has provided the most consistent scoring across the board.

"Something I’ve learned in my short career so far is that you are going to hit slides and funks, but you're also going to hit stretches where things are going in that shouldn’t and pucks seem to be getting the right bounces for you," Moulson said, dismissing the importance of his own success. "I think it’s just the age old saying 'don’t be too high when things are good, and don’t be too low when things are bad.' "

With a goal in each of his last two games, Moulson extended his point streak to four games (3 goals, 2 assists) and now has 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) on the season, tying defensemen Mark Streit (1 goal, 9 assists) for third on the team in scoring.
Max Pacioretty
Leading the team with eight goals, Max Pacioretty enters tonight’s game as the Montreal Canadiens second leading scorer as his 15 points (7 assists) in 18 games trails only Tomas Plekanec. The New Canaan, CT, native is the hotter of the two players with points in three straight games (2 goals, 2 assists) and in five of his last six games. After sustaining a serious neck injury last March, which caused him to miss the last month of the 2010-11 season and first round of the playoffs, the 2007 1st round selection has come back to the Canadiens lineup and made a significant impact.

Pacioretty, along with linemates David Desharnais and Erik Cole, makes up a formidable Habs second line. The trio combined for three assists in the Canadiens most recent win, a 4-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Pacioretty’s recent play is a factor in the Canadiens winning ways, with the team going 7-2-1 in their last 10. - By Cory Wright
Consistency has been the hardest part of the Islanders current struggles. In their current slide, there have been flashes of brilliance, or even 55 minutes where the team’s strung together some solid hockey, but taking even one shift off can come back to bite a team’s chance of earning the W. That’s one spot Islanders center Frans Nielsen said the team needs to remedy if they want to get back to last season’s form.

“We have a lot of ups and downs,” Nielsen said. “There have been games that we didn’t play great and games that we have to get back consistency. If we can show up every night and compete like we did last night, we are going to win a lot more games than we lose and go on a long winning streak. So we have to make sure we show up every night and play hard, points are going to come.”

Though consistency has been a problem in the past, the last four games or so have seen a major improvement, even if it’s not visible in the standings.

Isles center John Tavares said the team has been generating more chances and that the team will have to continue that, but added, "Sometimes you think you are working as hard as you can, but there’s always a little bit more you can give. If we do that, limit those mistakes that have cost us recently and keep our confidence, good things are going to start happening for us."

That includes more success on special teams. The Islanders successfully killed all four of their penalties on Tuesday night against the Rangers, but they only converted on one of their five power play opportunities, even while having six minutes with the man advantage in the second period.

“I thought we had some good zone time and good looks,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said of the Islanders power play. “They (Rangers) went down a lot on their PK and did a good job of getting in blocking lanes. Special teams last night, we made a commitment and I thought goaltending gave us a chance to win. We just have to find a way.”
While the Montreal Canadiens continue to make strides in the right direction, the New York Islanders are still struggling to find something positive to build on during their extended rough stretch.

The Canadiens look to extend their recent success while trying to hand the Islanders a fifth consecutive loss Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Montreal (8-7-3) won Wednesday for the seventh time in 10 games following a six-game skid, beating Carolina 4-0. Carey Price stopped 25 shots for his first shutout since last season's playoffs, while defenseman P.K. Subban had a goal with an assist and Tomas Plekanec added two assists to help the Canadiens record a point in their fourth straight game.

"It was a solid effort all the way through," captain Brian Gionta said. "We were doing the right things."

The Canadiens have done well while killing off all 18 of their opponents' power plays over the last five games. The Hurricanes went 0 for 6 on Wednesday.

In addition to his solid defensive work, Subban has five points in his last five games after totaling three in his previous 13 contests. He assisted on Travis Moen's sixth goal Wednesday as Moen matched his goal output from last season, when he played in 79 games. (Continue Reading)

Kyle Okposo’s goal in the fourth round of a shootout propelled the Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Feb. 11, 2011. Three times the Islanders erased one goal deficits, as Michael Grabner scored two goals with John Tavares adding one. Mikko Koskinen recorded his first NHL win in his second start, turning aside 37 shots, plus four shootout attempts. Max Pacioretty, Benoit Pouliot and Tomas Plekanec scored for Montreal. - By Cory Wright
- Mark Katic - Shoulder (9/24 vs. NJ) - 15 games missed (Out indefinitely)

- Rhett Rakhshani - Concussion (9/27 at CGY) - 15 games missed (Out indefinitely)
Power Play %: 18.0%
Penalty Kill %: 81.1%
Home Record: 4-4-1
Road Record: 0-4-2
Goals For: 31
Goals Against: 47
Power Play %: 12.3%
Penalty Kill %: 87.5%
Home Record: 2-4-3
Road Record: 5-3-0
Goals For: 42
Goals Against: 45
(Answer from 11/15: Bryan Trottier, Bob Bourne and Denis Potvin. It only took 27 seconds for the trio to light up the Rangers on Oct. 23, 1983 in a 6-5 overtime loss.)
Check out the Islanders depth chart. The same lineup against the Rangers will be in against the Canadiens, including starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov. Only exception is backup goalie, Rick DiPietro in, Al Montoya out. Mark Eaton and Kyle Okposo also healthy scratches.

Canadiens (Expected) Lineups
Forwards: Moen-Plekanec-Gionta, Pacioretty-Desharnais-Cole, Gomez-Eller-Palushaj, Nokelainen-Engqvist-Darche

Defensemen: Emelin-Subban, Gorges-Diaz, Spacek-Weber

Goaltenders: Price, Budaj

Expected Scratches: Cammalleri, Kostitsyn, Gill

Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano: "I told them (Wednesday) that nobody feels bad for us. Nobody could really care outside whether it’s a lot of people that are involved. I don’t read a lot, but I knew in August where everybody ranked us, where everybody picked us. We didn’t get a whole lot of respect and we have to earn that respect. People talk about where we were going to finish. For me, the bottom line is life is full of adversity and they are going to face a lot more adversity in their life then being 4-8 right now. You rely on family. We talked about a brotherhood in there and playing together and trust and belief. We have to continue that right now."

Cory Wright contributed to this report
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