Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pregame Preview: Canadiens vs Islanders (Game #81)

Match Up:

The Canadiens (45-27-8) are home to host the Islanders (31-37-11) Thursday night at the Bell Centre. The game starts at 7:30 and airs on RDS and TSN-Habs.

This is the third and final game between the Habs and Islanders this season and the Canadiens are looking for a series sweep. The last time these teams met, in mid-December, Carey Price and Evgeni Nabokov took the game to overtime tied 0-0, until Max Pacioretty finally found the back of the net.

What to Watch:

Despite 6 shots on goal and a couple of golden opportunities in Chicago, Max Pacioretty is still stuck at 39 goals on the year. Dale Weise and Josh Gorges both returned to the lineup on Wednesday and the pair combined to open the scoring when Weise scored after the initial shot from Gorges was blocked in front.

The Islanders are playing for pride at this point in the season, with just 73 points they have long since been eliminated from playoff contention. With their star John Tavares out of the lineup, as well as current leading scorer Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen has picked up the slack for the Isles. Nielsen hit the 25-goal mark for the first time in his career with the lone Long Island goal in a 4-1 loss to the Senators on Tuesday.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens are now 3 points up on the Lightning with 1 more game played, putting them in the driver's seat in the race for home ice advantage. If the Bolts fall to the Flyers tonight, the Habs can clinch by taking at least one point from tonight's game. If the Lightning win, the Canadiens will still need 101 points and another regulation or OT win to clinch.

Who's Out:

Alex Galchenyuk (lower body) made an early exit from Wednesday's game and was seen on crutches afterwards, it's unlikely he'll be able to play Thursday and could be out much longer. Brandon Prust (upper body) has yet to be reevaluated but won't return until at least the beginning of the Playoffs and Travis Moen (concussion) is out as well.

The Islanders are missing John Tavares (knee), Kyle Okposo (lower body), Lubimir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (hand). Michael Grabner (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (upper body) and Calvin de Haan (lower body) are day-to-day and could also miss Thursday's tilt.

What Else:

The Canadiens played their final road game of the regular season against the Hawks on Wednesday, ending the year with a respectable 23-13-5 road record. The Habs managed 23 road wins and 51 road points despite being outscored in away games 112 to 108. At home, the Canadiens have been much stingier giving up just 87 goals in the 39 games they've played this year in the Bell Centre.

The Question Mark:

Who are your Habs 3 Stars since the trade deadline?

Let us know what you think, leave us a comment or send us a tweet with the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.


Habs 6, Islanders 1. Douglas Murray on the ice for the lone goal against. Subban records 3 assists and Pacioretty gets #40. Carey Price faces 19 shots. AND.. Doghouse player is Rene Bourque. Because. Always.

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