Pregame Report: New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens

November 7, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders forward

John Tavares

(91) looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Center. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 1-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the New York Islanders (6-8-3, 15 pts) visit the Montreal Canadiens (8-8-1, 17 pts) in game no. 18 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
When: Sunday Nov. 10th, 6:00 p.m. EST
Watch: MSG+2
Listen: 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM WRCN

The Isles enter tonight’s game against the Habs losers of three straight road games by a combined score of 12-2.

The offense that buoyed the team during the first month of the season has all but dried up on the current road trip, and Bell Centre won’t offer an hospitable environment for the visiting Islanders. But, if they can regain some of last year’s “road warrior” identity, a win against the Canadiens might not be out of the question.

Backup netminder Kevin Poulin is slated to make his second start in three games, this one coming off a solid performance in the team’s 1-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. The lone Caronlina goal was the result of a deflection off a Hurricanes player’s body in front of Poulin, making the loss even tougher for fans to swallow.

Poulin may have to rein in some nerves tonight, playing in front of family and friends in his home city of Montreal.

The Islanders will again be without veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who’s still battling post-concussion syndrome. Brian Strait, Cal Clutterbuck, and now Thomas Vanek are also expected to miss tonight’s game due to injury.

Montreal is a tough team with high expectations for the 2013-14 season, and will be even more dangerous tonight, being that they’re in the midst of a four-game losing streak and will look to regain their winning ways at home.

The Canadiens are currently in sixth place in the Atlantic Division and looking up at the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, and the division newcomer Detroit Red Wings in the fight for the all-important third place spot.

Reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban leads Montreal with 16 points (3G, 13A) this season, and will again be a handful for the Isles tonight on both ends of the ice.

What They’re Saying…

“They’ve got to figure it out. We’re not talking systems and structure. We’re talking battle. We lost a battle on Atkinson’s goal. We took a hit. It’s a game of physicality and we responded the wrong way.” –Islanders head coach Jack Capuano on his team’s effort against Columbus “I thought we deserved a better fate. I thought we were the team that dictated the game and we had some great scoring chances, but we couldn’t capitalize on them so that was a big difference.” –Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien on his team’s loss to Ottawa


Quick Hitters…

  • Tonight’s game is the back-end of the Isles’ fifth back-to-back set of the season; the team is 1-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this year
  • Kyle Okposo is tied for eighth in the NHL in scoring with 19 points (5G, 14A); his 14 assists are good for fourth best in the league
  • 12 of the Islanders 17 games this season have been decided by a single goal
  • Andrew MacDonald leads the NHL with 64 blocked shots, a category in which he finished last season tied for third place with 123

Projected Lineup:

29 Nelson – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
40 Grabner – 51 Nielsen – 12 Bailey
96 Bouchard – 16 Regin – 13 McDonald
36 Boulton– 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin

47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 46 Donovan
55 Ness – 7 Carkner

60 Poulin
20 Nabokov

Scratches: 4 Martinek, 15 Clutterbuck, 26 Vanek
IR: 11 Visnovsky, 37 Strait

UPDATE: expect 29 Nelson in for 26 Vanek (upper body injury)