Coming off their best performance in nearly two weeks, the New York Islanders resume their pursuit of first-place Washington when they host an old nemesis on Thursday night. New York has dropped three straight overall and eight of its last nine (1-6-2) at home to the Montreal Canadiens, including a 4-3 shootout loss on Nov. 5.
New York rode a 31-save shutout by Thomas Greiss to a 2-0 victory over Columbus on Monday night to rebound from a 5-2 drubbing by Philadelphia and draw within two points of the Capitals. "We played Islander hockey for a little bit," coach Barry Trotz said after New York beat an opponent with a winning record for only the second time in 12 games. "More than anything, we raised our battle level and that's where it starts." The Islanders also did a favor for the Canadiens, helping them pull into a tie on points with Columbus for the second wild card after snapping a two-game skid with a 3-1 home win over Detroit on Tuesday. Goaltender Carey Price set a franchise record with his 315th win and takes an 11-5-4 record against New York into Thursday's matchup.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, RDS, TSN2 (Montreal), MSG-Plus (New York)
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (37-26-7): Max Domi scored twice against the Red Wings to boost his career-high total to 24 goals and he also tallied once and added an assist in Montreal's win over New York in early November. Linemate Tomas Tatar, second on the team to Domi with 22 goals, collected a pair of assists Tuesday to reach 50 points for the second time in his career. Price, who is one of 16 goaltenders to earn at least 300 wins with one franchise, can reach a more modest milestone, sitting one victory shy of reaching 30 for the fourth time.
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (40-22-7): Goaltender Robin Lehner, out the past three games due to an upper-body injury, returned to practice for the first time since he was hurt in a shootout win over Ottawa on March 5. "When you suspect any type of head injury, it's a process. You have to go through it," Lehner said. "It's been good. It's nice to be back, it (stinks) to be away from the guys at this time of the year. Just being around the guys and being around the team is a huge thing." Trotz said Lehner is a possibility to get the start Thursday.
1. The Islanders are 0-for-20 on the power play over their past nine games.
2. Canadiens F Brendan Gallagher has 11 goals in his last 17 games and 13 points in 17 contests versus New York.
3. Islanders D Johnny Boychuk did not practice Wednesday and is expected to miss his second game in a row.
PREDICTION: Islanders 3, Canadiens 2 Bet Now
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