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Habs aim for series sweep of Isles

by Brian Compton
CANADIENS (39-32-8) at ISLANDERS (33-35-10)

Last 10: Montreal 5-3-2; New York 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Montreal is going for a season sweep, having won the first three matchups. The Habs and Isles last met on Dec. 19, 2009, when Montreal earned a 3-0 win at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big Story: The Canadiens are still battling for playoff position in the Eastern Conference, as they're vying for the No. 6 seed with three games remaining in their regular season. A win on Long Island would certainly inch them closer toward achieving that goal.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal is searching for its third straight win, thanks to some splendid goaltending by Jaroslav Halak. The once ninth-round draft pick (2003) recorded his second straight shutout on Saturday in a 3-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres. Halak made 35 saves the night before in a 1-0 victory at Philadelphia.

"(Friday) night we kind of slowed down, we gave them more chances, but tonight we kept playing and we kept our forecheck and our third man high, and I think that was the key," Halak said.

Islanders: New York is finishing strong and is coming off a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum. The Isles have earned points in four of their last five games and have vastly improved in Year 2 of the rebuild.

"We're not giving any points away," rookie John Tavares said after scoring his 22nd goal of the season on Saturday. "When you're playing good hockey, you don't want to see the season end. At the same time, it will breed good things for next season."

Who's Hot: Halak's back-to-back shutouts are the first by a Habs goalie since Cristobal Huet accomplished the feat in Feb. 2006. … Isles goalie Martin Biron is 6-0-2 in his last eight starts, while Tavares has 13 points in his last nine games. Sean Bergenheim has three goals in his last four contests and Blake Comeau has three straight multi-point efforts.

Injury Report: Canadiens forward Glen Metropolit (shoulder) is out for the season. … Doug Weight, Radek Martinek, Rick DiPietro, Rob Schremp and Dustin Kohn are all out for the Islanders. Bruno Gervais (groin) is day-to-day.

Stat Pack: Montreal's power play is converting at a disappointing 13-percent rate since the NHL returned from the Olympic break. The Habs have scored only twice in their last 25 opportunities with the man advantage.

Puck Drop: "It's easy to look back and point to some games and stretches. The teams that make it are the teams that are able to stop those stretches when they're in the middle of it." -- Islanders goaltender Martin Biron

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