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At the Rink: Islanders at Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens will not have Carey Price at their disposal when they face the New York Islanders at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Price is day-to-day with an upper-body injury he sustained during a 3-2 win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. He backed up Dustin Tokarski on Thursday during Montreal's 4-1 loss at the Ottawa Senators.

"(Friday) morning he was stiff and that's the reason we made our decision," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after the morning skate at the team's suburban practice facility.

Price, who was named to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, is 23-10-2 with two shutouts, a 2.19 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage in 35 games.

Therrien did not have a timeline for Price's return. Montreal hosts the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, its last game before the All-Star break.

"I can't confirm that he's going to be there for the next game and for the All-Star Game, but the only thing I can say it's day-to-day and it's an upper body, but it's not like a major injury," Therrien said.

Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty took the blame for Price's injury. Columbus forward Matt Calvert was driving the net when he was pushed into Price by Pacioretty. Price was hunched over in pain after his back struck the right post but he remained in the game.

"I feel bad obviously with the fact that that's how it happened, but the good news is it's nothing serious and I'm happy that it's something minor," Pacioretty said.

Tokarski will start a second game in a row for the first time since the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He started the last five games of Montreal's six-game series loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final after Price was injured in Game 1.

Goalie Joey MacDonald was recalled from Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Friday.

Therrien has tinkered some more with his lines, including moving Alex Galchenyuk from center to left wing. Galchenyuk has one assist in his past four games and Therrien said he had a good conversation with the 20-year-old forward Saturday.

"As a coach and with a young player I've got to make sure that he's developing well, his confidence is there. I asked him where he felt comfortable, because it's a lot of responsibility to be a centerman, and he told me that right now he believes that he's going to feel a lot better on the wing," Therrien said. "He's going to be able to play his game better than he was at center, less thinking, less responsibility, so together we took the decision that moving on the wing, and I'm going to support Alex 100 percent. We're going to work with him and I'm sure the kid is going to be fine."

The Islanders will start Jaroslav Halak on back to back nights for the second time this season.

Halak made 21 saves in a 6-3 win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and will get his third career start as a visiting player at Bell Centre, a building where he had a lot of success with the Canadiens before being traded to the St. Louis Blues following the 2009-10 season.

“He’s playing with some confidence in there so we decided to go back with him,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.

The only other time Halak started on back-to-back nights this season was Dec. 19 and 20, winning at the Detroit Red Wings and at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, allowing one goal in each game. 

Halak was forced to miss the next two games with a lower body injury, but Capuano said he is not concerned about the same thing happening again.

“We’re communicating with him real well,” Capuano said. “The last time we played back to back we decided not to go with him; he just said he felt a little tired. He said he felt really good after the game [Friday] and that’s why the decision was made.”

The Islanders will make no changes to the lineup that beat the Penguins on Friday, Capuano said. That means forward Mikhail Grabovski will miss a fourth straight game since he sustained a lower body injury Jan. 9 at the New Jersey Devils.

Here are the projected lineups:


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Brock Nelson - Nikolay Kulemin

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Brian Strait

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan

Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), Matt Carkner (back), Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body)


Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Dale Weise

Alex Galchenyuk - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Jiri Sekac - Lars Eller - Christian Thomas

Michael Bournival - Manny Malhotra - Brandon Prust

Nathan Beaulieu - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Sergei Gonchar

Alexei Emelin - Mike Weaver

Dustin Tokarski

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Tom Gilbert

Injured: Carey Price (upper body), Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (illness)

Status report: Parenteau is out after playing the past two games. He missed three games after sustaining a concussion on Jan. 2 on a hit by Tim Sestito of the New Jersey Devils. "He didn't feel well (Saturday) morning so he won't play (against the Islanders)," Therrien said. Weaver has not played since Dec. 6, when he sustained a concussion during a 4-1 loss at the Dallas Stars.

Who's hot: Okposo has scored five goals in his past three games, including his first career four-goal game Friday. Tavares and Bailey each had three assists. … Pacioretty's six-game goal streak is tied for the longest in the NHL this season with Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators.

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