Islanders-Canadiens Preview

The Associated Press

The Montreal Canadiens tend to have little trouble with the New York Islanders.

Lately, most opponents have enjoyed facing the Islanders - especially when hosting them.

The Canadiens look to continue their dominance of last-place New York when they conclude the season series Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Montreal (28-32-12) is 14-2-4 over its last 20 meetings with the Islanders (28-32-11), winning seven of 10 matchups at home with all three defeats coming after regulation.

That dominance continued Feb. 9 on Long Island, as Max Pacioretty netted a hat trick in a 4-2 victory as the Canadiens improved to 2-1-0 in the season series.

That success is one thing keeping Montreal from residing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The club leads New York by one point.

The Canadiens have surged out of the cellar by going 3-0-2 in their last five games. They missed out on a point Friday, however, giving up a third-period goal before surrendering another in overtime to lose 2-1 at Ottawa.

Pacioretty is looking to get back on the scoresheet after having his season-high seven-game scoring streak halted by the Senators. The left wing had five goals and seven assists during that stretch, and seems to be in position to start another run.

He has six goals and three assists in nine career meetings with the Islanders, and six of those points have come in the last four.

Tomas Plekanec also thrives against New York, getting 13 goals and 15 assists in the past 20 matchups. That includes at least one point in each of the last 11.

He scored short-handed for the Canadiens' lone goal Friday.

New York is on the brink of matching its season-worst six-game losing streak from Oct. 20-Nov. 3. Opening a five-game road trip doesn't seem like an ideal way to avoid that result, with the Islanders having gone 1-5-2 over their last eight road games.

Their most recent performance isn't likely to inspire much confidence, as they gave up the first three goals before scoring twice late in a 3-2 home defeat to Philadelphia on Thursday. New York held a 31-22 shot advantage, including 11-5 in the final period.

"We had chances but no second opportunities," center John Tavares said. "It's unacceptable."

Tavares continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Isles this season. He has career highs of 31 goals and 39 assists after his goal against the Flyers ran his scoring streak to four games. He has five goals and two assists in that span, finding the net at least once in each contest.

Tavares has three goals and three assists in his last seven meetings with the Canadiens, with a goal in each of his past three visits to Montreal.

Matt Moulson is second to Tavares with 30 goals, and his next one will match his career high set last season. Facing the Canadiens might help, since the left wing has scored in each of the three meetings this season.

Moulson is the first Islander to put together three consecutive seasons of at least 30 goals since Zigmund Palffy from 1995-96 through 1997-98.

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