For the second straight game, the Montreal Canadiens are facing a hot team in contention for a playoff spot.
They may want to keep their composure this time.
After a contest in which their aggressiveness proved costly, the Canadiens look to rebound when they host the New York Islanders on Saturday.
Montreal (28-18-6) lost 5-4 in a shootout at Pittsburgh on Thursday night, falling behind 3-1 while Sheldon Souray was serving a seven-minute penalty.
It ended up costing the Canadiens—who are tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference—against a Penguins team that won its fifth straight to move into a three-way tie for sixth in the East.
“We have to concentrate on our next game,” Souray told The Gazette’s Web site after the loss.
Montreal now faces New York (24-21-6), which has tied a season high by earning a point in five straight games (3-0-2) and is four points behind the final playoff spot in the conference.
The Canadiens, though, have won four straight at the Bell Centre against the Islanders, including two shutouts, since a 6-3 loss on March 20, 2003. Montreal has won eight of its last nine home games against New York.
The Canadiens also beat the Islanders 4-2 on the road Dec. 7 behind Koivu’s two goals and an assist. He has three goals and nine points in his last five games against New York.
Islanders captain Alexei Yashin, who missed that December matchup against the Canadiens with a sprained right knee, may sit out his second straight contest Saturday as the same knee continues to give him problems. Yashin didn’t play in Thursday night’s 5-2 win over Atlanta because of tendinitis.
Yashin has struggled since spraining his knee on Nov. 25 against Washington. He returned from an eight-game absence following the injury and scored in back-to-back wins, but has just one goal in his last 18 contests.
Islanders coach Ted Nolan used Randy Robitaille in Yashin’s place on New York’s top line Thursday. Jeff Tambellini had three assists after being recalled from AHL Bridgeport to replace Robitaille on the second line.
Yashin, still the team leader with 25 assists, had a strong start this season with 12 goals and 34 points in his first 27 games.
Nolan also rested No. 1 goaltender Rick DiPietro, who has a 3.82 goals-against average in his last four games. DiPietro is 2-5-0 with a 2.55 GAA in eight games against Montreal.
“Missing the people we were, it was a good win for us,” Nolan said.
Jason Blake scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period and Miroslav Satan had a goal and two assists to lead New York. It was Blake’s fourth goal in five games and his team-leading 27th, one shy of his career high set last season.