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Canadiens-Islanders Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (32-26-9) at New York Islanders (31-32-4).

TIME: Tuesday, 7 p.m. EST.

If the New York Islanders want to make the playoffs, they have to beat the teams in front of them in the standings.

One of those teams is the Montreal Canadiens.

New York and Montreal meet for the third time this season in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup at Nassau Coliseum.

In 12th place in the conference with 66 points, the Islanders are seven points behind the Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot with 15 games remaining.

Montreal, which defeated the Isles 4-3 on Oct. 22 and 5-3 on Feb. 28, hasn't beaten New York three consecutive times in one season since it swept a four-game season series in 1996-97.

The teams meet for the final time this season next Tuesday in Montreal.

The Islanders dropped the final three contests on a five-game road trip, following a season-high four-game winning streak.

Bruno Gervais recorded his first NHL goal and Alexei Yashin also scored in the opening period, but New York's offense was shut down from there in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Rick DiPietro made 32 saves, but allowed three third-period goals and lost his third straight start.

"It's a tough loss," DiPietro said. "Games this big you can't afford to drop like that in the third period. We did it again and we're just putting ourselves further and further behind the 8-ball.

"We had a chance to win it. We've got to play harder, (with) more desperation. We needed those two points badly and we didn't get them."

DiPietro is 1-3-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average in his career versus Montreal.

The Canadiens snapped a three-game losing skid with a 4-2 victory at Washington on Monday. More importantly, the win kept Montreal one point ahead of Atlanta for the eighth playoff spot.

All 15 of Montreal's remaining games are against Eastern Conference opponents, and 10 of them are at home, where the Canadiens are 17-10-4.

Mike Komisarek scored his first NHL goal in his 123rd game and added an assist, and Michael Ryder collected his team-high 25th score during a three-goal second period.

Komisarek, who entered with just one assist this season in 55 games, beat Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig at 5:47 of the first.

"It was definitely a good feeling," Komisarek said. "I was thrilled. I didn't know that it had gone in. I was just in shock."

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 73 points, 3rd place, 25 PB, Northeast Division. Islanders - 66 points, 4th place, 22 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Ryder, 25 goals; Alexei Kovalev, 34 assists and 51 points; Steve Begin, 105 PIM. Islanders - Miroslav Satan, 28 goals; Yashin and Mike York, 34 assists; Yashin, 57 points; Arron Asham, 103 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 19.0 percent (71 for 374), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (339 for 419), 22nd. Islanders - Power play: 17.3 percent (64 for 370), 19th. Penalty killing: 78.7 percent (318 for 404), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Cristobal Huet (12-7-4, 5 SO, 2.23 GAA); David Aebischer (25-16-2, 3, 3.07). Islanders - DiPietro (25-20-4, 3.15); Garth Snow (4-9-0, 3.70).

SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 28; Canadiens, 5-3. At Uniondale, N.Y., Christopher Higgins had two goals and Huet made 32 saves as Montreal extended its points streak to six games. Satan scored twice for New York.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 15-16-5 on the road; Islanders - 16-14-2 at home.

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