The Islanders, trying to hold on to seventh place in the East, look to beat one of their many competitors for postseason position when they conclude their season series with the Canadiens on Tuesday.
New York (34-24-10) has 78 points - only two ahead of Carolina and the New York Rangers in the East - and is one of seven teams contending for the conference’s final two playoff spots. Eleventh-place Montreal (34-30-6), meanwhile, trails the Hurricanes and Rangers by two points.
The Islanders are certainly playing well enough to make the postseason, having earned points in 19 of 22 games (13-3-6), but they learned Sunday they’ll have to move forward without Simon. The league suspended the left wing for record 25 games for his deliberate two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers in a 2-1 loss Thursday night.
Simon, 35, will miss the rest of the regular season and any postseason games New York plays. The suspension will carry over to next season if the Islanders play fewer than 10 playoff games.
Simon served the first game Saturday night in a 5-2 win over Washington, after the NHL initially suspended him indefinitely.
“It’s obviously a tough situation,” Islanders forward Jason Blake said. “Chris is a great teammate. What happened happened. It’s over. … We’re behind him.”
Blake scored two goals Saturday to reach a career-high 35 on the season. He has six goals and nine points in his last six games.
Mike Sillinger also scored for the Islanders, who are six points behind fifth-place Pittsburgh.
“Everybody talks about the eighth spot, but the fourth spot is not too far ahead, either,” New York coach Ted Nolan said. “Can we get higher? I think we can.”
Rick DiPietro stopped 26 shots to reach 30 wins for the second straight season. DiPietro, who has started each of the last 17 games, is 2-1-1 with a 1.72 goals-against average in the last four.
Montreal salvaged its only win of a five-game road trip in Saturday’s finals, beating St. Louis 4-3.
Alexei Kovalev scored the winning goal with 1:25 left for the Canadiens, just 43 seconds after the Blues rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game.
Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said he liked the way his team bounced back.
“It’s always frustrating,” he said. “I think everyone was upset, but we stuck to our game.”
The Canadiens return home, where they have won two straight after a four-game losing streak at the Bell Centre.
New York has won its last two meetings with Montreal - including a 4-2 victory Feb. 3 at the Bell Centre - after losing the season’s first matchup 4-2 on Dec. 7 at home.