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Habs host Isles after wild affair in Boston

by Brian Compton /
ISLANDERS (17-29-7) at CANADIENS (30-20-5)

TV: MSG-Plus, RDS.

Last 10: New York 3-7-0; Montreal 5-3-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. Montreal won the first two rounds before the Islanders responded with a 4-1 win at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 26.

Big Story: Desperately seeking another goaltender, New York acquired Al Montoya from the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night in exchange for a sixth-round pick at the 2011 Entry Draft.

A former first-round selection of the New York Rangers (No. 6) in 2004, Montoya has appeared in only five career NHL games, which all came during the 2008-09 season. In 21 games for AHL San Antonio this season, Montoya went 11-8-0 with a 3.19 goals-against average and an .891 save percentage.

Montoya, 25, was scheduled to report to AHL Bridgeport on Thursday, but it's likely he'll replace Joel Martin on the big club Friday, when the Isles host Pittsburgh. Should Montoya see any action on Long Island, he'll become the sixth goaltender used by the club this season, joining Rick DiPietro, Dwayne Roloson, Nathan Lawson, Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen.

Team Scope:

Islanders: It truly defies logic what has happened to the Isles this season, especially what proved to be a season-ending injury to Poulin on Tuesday night. The 20-year-old goaltender suffered a dislocated left kneecap during warmups, which forced the Islanders to call minor-league journeyman Joel Martin to leave the team's AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn., and head for New York, where he joined the team in time for the start of the third period.

Koskinen made his first NHL start and struggled in a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Coliseum.

"Talk about being cold when you're sitting on the bench," Martin told Newsday. "It's about the coldest I've ever been. No warmup."

Canadiens: Montreal should be a fatigued club after what transpired in Boston on Wednesday night, when the Habs suffered a wild 8-6 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden. Not only did the teams combine for 14 goals, but they also racked up 182 minutes in penalties -- which included fighting majors to goalies Carey Price and Tim Thomas.

"I think we were just play-fighting more than anything," Price said. "Neither of us really wanted to get hurt, but we are out there doing whatever we had to do, I guess."

Who's Hot: Isles forward Michael Grabner has eight goals in his last 11 games. … Canadiens captain Brian Gionta tallied his 200th career goal Wednesday night. He has four goals in his last five contests.
Injury Report: The Islanders, who lead the League in man-games lost (336), will be without DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling), Poulin (knee), Lawson (knee), Mark Streit (shoulder), Mike Mottau (hip), Mark Eaton (hip), Blake Comeau (concussion), Doug Weight (back), Trent Hunter (knee) and Jeremy Colliton (rib). Bruno Gervais (upper body) is day-to-day. … Montreal is missing Andrei Markov (knee), Josh Gorges (knee) and Mike Cammalleri (shoulder).

Stat Pack: Wednesday's loss at Boston was just the third regulation defeat for the Canadiens in their last 10 games. They were whistled for 21 penalties. … The 14 goals were the most scored in a Boston-Montreal game since the Bruins won 8-6 on Dec. 5, 1985.

Puck Drop: "Today was a big game. A lot of points were on the line … important points. It's just an emotional game, and that's what you saw out there." -- Canadiens captain Brian Gionta after Wednesday's 8-6 loss at Boston
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