ISLANDERS (1-3-3) at CANADIENS (3-5-0)
Season series -- It's the first of four meetings between the teams this season. The visiting team won all four games in 2008-09, with the Islanders winning once in a shootout and once in OT at the Bell Centre. The Isles will make their other visit to Montreal on Monday.
Big story -- Both teams come into the game off shootout victories that ended long losing streaks. The Islanders continued their habit of blowing third-period leads, but scored on all three shootout tries to beat Carolina 4-3 at the Nassau Coliseum. Montreal ended a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Atlanta.
The wins cooled off the heat on both teams. Montreal's five-game losing streak included back-to-back defeats in its first two home games. The Islanders hadn't won in 10 games before scoring on all three shootout tries.
Islanders -- Although they finally won a game, the Islanders have to be concerned about their continuing inability to close out games. The Isles are 1-2 in shootouts but have led in the third period in all three -- including a 3-1 margin with less than half of the final period to go against Carolina on Wednesday.
"We gave up a couple of gifts again at the end, but we rallied to manage in the shootout," said defenseman Andy Sutton, who had a goal and an assist. "Maybe we learned a little bit from what happened and fought a little harder. Going forward, we have to stay with more composure when we have that lead. We fought so hard to get it, we've got to fight a little harder to keep it."
Canadiens -- Who's the No. 1 goaltender? Coach Jacques Martin went with Jaroslav Halak on Tuesday and was rewarded with the slump-breaking shootout win.
Carey Price played six of Montreal's first seven games, but went 2-4-0. It will be interesting to see if Halak's solid performance in the win over the Thrashers earns him back-to-back starts.
"I want to be a No. 1 goaltender but I'm patient," Halak told the media after practice Wednesday. "I'm a bull, a Taurus. I'm determined, but I'm also patient."
Who's hot -- Tavares is averaging a point a game for the Isles, but their most productive offensive player has been journeyman Matt Moulson, who scored Wednesday and has five goals in New York's seven games. Brian Gionta has been the most productive of the slew of free agents brought in by GM Bob Gainey -- he has four goals, including the lone pre-shootout goal on Tuesday.
Injury report -- The Canadiens haven't been the same since their best defenseman, Andrei Markov, went down in the early stages of the season. Newcomer Scott Gomez avoided injury Tuesday when he was hit from behind by Atlanta's Slava Kozlov, who received a major and a game misconduct. The Islanders got center Frans Nielsen back on Wednesday, and he scored the deciding goal in the shootout.
Stat pack -- The Islanders are next-to-last in the NHL with 12 goals allowed in the third period. The Canadiens are next-to-last in third-period scoring -- they've connected just three times in the final 20 minutes of their eight games.
Puck drop -- Tavares, a celebrity in Canada since he was 14, is making his first appearance in Montreal as an NHL player. The last time he was in the Bell Centre, he heard his name called as the No. 1 pick in the draft in June. Tavares can expect swarms of media wanting his every thought on the early stages of his NHL career.
-- John Kreiser, NHL.com