Canadiens-Islanders Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 20, 2013
The Montreal Canadiens weren't entirely discouraged after their failed comeback bid, which would have extended their winning streak to their longest of the season. But they'll still have plenty to clean up after a crucial mistake proved costly. To get back on track, Montreal will need a road victory Thursday night against the New York Islanders, a team they've had difficulties with recently. Montreal (19-5-5), which trails only Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference standings, is 13-1-4 in its last 18 games, with that lone regulation loss coming on Long Island, 6-3, on March 5. The Canadiens had won five in a row since that defeat, but that run came to an end with Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Buffalo. It was the second straight game that Montreal was held to two goals after scoring four or more in seven of the previous eight contests. But coach Michel Therrien saw a positive in finding a way to come away with a point after the club trailed 2-0 entering the third. "We never quit," he said "I thought the guys worked really hard to make a comeback. As long as the effort is there, I'm going to be satisfied." Still, Therrien wasn't pleased with what helped lead to the decisive goal in overtime - a P.K. Subban high-sticking penalty 17 seconds into the extra period. Discipline has sometimes been an issue for the Canadiens, one of the league's more penalized teams with an average of 13:46 penalty minutes per game. "We're going to take care of that internally and make sure it doesn't happen again," Therrien said. Teams have also been taking advantage against Montreal of late, scoring four power play goals on 10 chances over the last three games. The Islanders (13-13-3) will look to capitalize, as they've been one of the league's better power-play teams all season, converting on 23.4 percent of their chances. They were 2 for 5 on the power play in the last meeting, though they scored on only one of six advantages in a 5-3 home loss to Ottawa on Tuesday. It was the second straight game in which New York blew a third-period lead after it held a 3-1 edge going into the final period Saturday at Florida. They avoided a meltdown with a 4-3 win in that contest, but finishing games continues to a problem for the Islanders. They are just 13-7-3 in games in which they've been tied or led in the third period. "It's disturbing," coach Jack Capuano said following Tuesday's defeat. "We put ourselves in this situation." New York does have the benefit of Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson both riding five-game point streaks. Boyes had three assists in the first two games against Montreal this season, while Moulson has six goals in his last six meetings. The Islanders have won six of eight overall against Montreal and three of the last four matchups at home. Canadiens goalie Carey Price is 4-0-1 with a 2.38 goals-against average since allowing five goals on 23 shots in this month's loss to the Islanders. Price could face New York's Michael Grabner, who may return after sitting out the last three games with a shoulder injury. Grabner is third on the team with 10 goals.
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