Game Preview: NY Islanders vs Montreal Canadiens

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The NY Islanders (36-27-15) look to win 6 straight as they take on the Montreal Canadiens (30-36-12) at UBS Arena. Tonight is another must-win game for the Islanders as they sit at third in the Metropolitan Division and have four teams chasing them.


Last game had the barn rocking, with a 4-2 win over the NY Rangers at UBS. The Islanders absolutely dominated the Rangers during the first period. After a failed Mat Barzal penalty shot against Igor Shesterkin 1:25 into the game, they didn't take their foot off the gas. Mike Riley scored his 6th goal of the season at 4:12 in the first period. The Islanders scored two more before the end of the first period, Bo Horvat scoring his 33rd of the season, deflecting a slapshot from Noah Dobson past Shesterkin. Kyle Palmieri closed out the first period two minutes later with his 27th of the season and a 3-0 lead for the Islanders. The Islanders outshot the Rangers 16-11 in the first, but were subsequently outshot for the next two periods. The Blue Shirts played a stronger, faster and more physical second and third period than the Islanders seemed ready for. The Rangers have the best power play in the league, and the Isles played smart for the first period, staying out of the box entirely and getting two power plays of their own, but were unable to keep it up for the second period.

After Riley took an interference penalty, Chris Kreider scored his 39th goal of the season on the power play. the Islanders proceeded to take two more penalties during the second period, but a Dobson delay of game with 3 minutes remaining in the period gave the Rangers the push they needed. This time it was Long Island native Adam Fox bringing the Rangers within one. The Rangers continued to play hard for the third period but Semyon Varlamov stood tall in net for the Islanders and kept the Rangers offense at bay. With less than a minute remaining in the game and some physicality from the Islanders and Rangers, Pierre Engvall scooped up a loose puck and it was sent to a flying Anders Lee who scored his 20th of the season in the empty net.

All Isles fans were rooting for the Habs on Thursday night as they took on the Philadelphia Flyers, who are chasing the Isles in the playoff race. The Canadiens absolutely dominated the Flyers with a 9-3 win, handing them their 8th straight loss. Rookie Juraj Slavkovsky scored his first career hat trick, and the Habs got goals from four other players, including two from Brendan Gallagher (who the Isles have history with). The Habs scored five unanswered goals during the second period, and kept the flyers off of the scoresheet until. the third period. Despite playing such a dominant game, the Habs were outshot 36-30 by the Flyers but goaltender Sam Montembeault played an outstanding game for the Habs.


Tonight is the third and final time that these two teams will face off this season, as the Islanders look for redemption against the Habs having lost the first two games. They first met this season on December 16th when the Islanders lost 5-3, ending their point streak. After a scoreless first period, the Habs came out hot for the second, scoring four straight goals. Joel Armia scored first, followed by two goals from Josh Anderson. Cole Caufield scored just 15 seconds after Anderson's second goal, giving the Habs a 4-0 lead. The Isles didn't go down without a fight, opening the third period with a short handed goal by Brock Nelson for his first goal of the game. Nelson scored again just a minute later, this time at even strength for his 15th goal of the season. Horvat was able to make it a one goal game with five minutes remaining in the period. But with Varlamov pulled, Christian Dvorak scored his second goal of the season in the empty net for a 5-3 win.

The second game of the season on January 26th was head coach Patrick Roy's return to the Bell Center in Montreal, where he won two Stanley Cups. The 4-3 loss was Roy's third game as the new head coach, and Varlamov's first game back after sustaining a lower body injury mid-game on January 2nd. Nick Suzuki scored first for the Habs 7.5 minutes into the first period on the power play. Caulfield made it 2-0, followed quickly by a power play goal by Sean Monahan to give the Habs a 3-0 in the first period. Roy utilized his timeout after Monahan's goal, giving the team a much needed mental reset. The Islanders came back with a vengeance for the rest of the game, scoring three straight power play goals to tie the game. Horvat scored the first early in the second period, followed by Barzal and Palmieri just two minutes apart in the third period. Dobson assisted all three Islanders goals, making him the sixth Isles defenseman with three power play assists in a game, and the first since 2007. Gallagher was assessed a match penalty at 11:52 in the third for an elbow to the head against Adam Pelech, who was out for 2 weeks with a concussion. Unfortunately, the Islanders couldn't complete the comeback for Roy, and Monahan closed out the game with a goal with 2:12 remaining in the third period.


Varlamov has been hot as of late, and the Islanders seem to be sticking with him as their playoff-hope savior. He is averging 2 goals against in his last 5 starts, including a shutout against the Nashville Predators on April 6th. He has been outstanding in net and is the reason the Islanders were able to defeat the Rangers, and a large part of their playoff push to close out the season. With Ilya Sorokin struggling, the Isles needed the second half of the Russian tandem to step up and he has done that and more. Dobson always plays a great game against the Habs, he has 12 points in 8 career games against them, and has 4 assists in his last 3 games.

For Montreal, defenseman Mike Matheson has been hot, with 8 assists in his last five games, and has at least 2 assists in his last 3. Montembeault, who is set to start in net for the Habs, always plays like a brick wall against the Islanders. In the two previous games this season he made 33 and 46 saves respectively. He has a 3.10 goals against average and a .904 save percentage in his last 5 starts.



Casey Cizikas - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal Simon Holmstrom - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri Anders Lee - J.G. Pageau - Pierre Engvall Matt Martin - Kyle MacLean - Cal Clutterbuck

Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson Adam Pelech - Ryan Pulock Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho

Semyon Varlamov Ilya Sorokin


Cole Caufield - Nick Suzuki - Juraj Slavkovsky Brendan Gallagher - Alex Newhook - Joel Armia Tanner Pearson - Jake Evans - Josh Anderson Michael Pezzetta - Christian Dvorak - Rafael Harvey-Pinard

Mike Matheson - David Savard Jordan Harris - Johnathan Kovacevic Jayden Struble - Justin Barron

Sam Montembeault Cayden Primeau

Habs lineup courtesy of Daily Faceoff