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Canadiens-Islanders Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (26-22-8) at New York Islanders (25-27-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Montreal Canadiens' playoff hopes will hinge on the play of two goaltenders who have less than one season's experience - combined.

Montreal coach Bob Gainey will call on either Cristobal Huet or rookie Yann Danis when the Canadiens return from the Olympic break to meet Team USA goaltender Rick DiPietro and the New York Islanders.

The Canadiens will be without former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Jose Theodore for the next six to eight weeks after he suffered a broken heel in a fall outside his Montreal home on Feb. 16.

"Jose was a victim of an unfortunate accident and we all feel for him," Gainey said. "He will get on with his rehabilitation as soon as the condition of his heel allows him to do so. We hope to have him back in time to help the team down the final stretch."

Earlier this month, it was revealed Theodore tested positive for a banned substance in pre-Olympic screening because he was using a hair-growth drug that can also be used as a masking agent.

Huet started the last six games in place of an ineffective Theodore leading up to the break, and went 3-1-2 with a 1.31 goals-against average and two shutouts. He is 20-25-11 with a 2.40 GAA and six shutouts in 70 career games, while Danis is 3-2-0 with a 2.69 GAA and one shutout in six contests this season.

Montreal is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Toronto and two in front of Atlanta and Boston. New York is six points behind the Canadiens in 12th place.

DiPietro returns to the Islanders after a disappointing effort by Team USA in Turin. He was in net in the Americans' win over Kazakhstan and one-goal losses to Slovakia and eventual gold-medal winner Sweden.

He also lost 4-3 to Finland in the quarterfinals as the Americans were eliminated from medal contention.

"When you lose and don't get a chance to play for a medal, it's the most disappointing thing that could happen in hockey right now for me," DiPietro said.

DiPietro made 31 saves and Alexei Yashin scored the game-winning goal midway though the second period in New York's last contest before the break, a 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Feb. 11.

The Islanders have won five straight at home over the Canadiens, limiting them to one goal in each of the last four games at Nassau Coliseum.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 60 points, 3rd place, 19 PB, Northeast Division. Islanders - 54 points, 4th place, 24 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Michael Ryder, 23 goals; four with 25 assists; Saku Koivu and Alexei Kovalev, 39 points; Steve Begin, 97 PIM. Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 24 goals; Mike York, 32 assists; Yashin, 47 points; Arron Asham, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 18.1 percent (56 for 309), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (282 for 349), 21st. Islanders - Power play: 18.1 percent (58 for 321), 13th. Penalty killing: 78.4 percent (272 for 347), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Huet (6-5-3, 2 SO, 2.37 GAA); Danis (3-2-0, 1, 2.69). Islanders - DiPietro (19-16-4, 3.38); Garth Snow (4-8-0, 3.55).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 22; Canadiens, 4-3. At Montreal, the Canadiens blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2 but still rallied to win on Begin's goal with 1:45 left in the third period. Satan scored a pair of power-play goals for the Islanders.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 10-15-4 on the road; Islanders - 12-13-2 at home.

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