Teams off to fast starts meet as Habs host Isles
By Eric Goodman
ISLANDERS (4-2-2) at CANADIENS (5-2-1)
TSN (HD), RDS (HD), MSG PLUS 2
Season series --
This is the first of four games this season between the Isles and Habs. Montreal held the advantage in 2009-10 with a 3-0-1 record over their opponents from Long Island.
Big story --
Various NHL reporters and experts neglected the Habs and Islanders in their preseason predictions, but both are currently in the top eight of the Eastern Conference. Although we have barely cracked the 2010-11 schedule, both the Canadiens and Isles have to be pleased with where they currently find themselves.
New York hopes to close out its four-game road trip with a victory, after opening with wins at Toronto and Tampa early last week, but then falling, 4-3 in regulation to the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday. That game saw John Tavares record a hat trick and each club trade goals until the Panthers' Radek Dvorak notched the game-winner on a wrist shot in the middle of the third period.
"It doesn't mean a whole lot when you don't get the two points, not getting a point out of it,” Tavares said. "It's a tough way to lose. A couple tough breaks, a couple tough calls, but that's the way it goes."
Montreal has given its fans plenty to cheer about and Monday's 3-2 overtime win against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes was just another example of that. Andrei Kostitsyn lifted the Canadiens to victory on a nifty snap shot in the opening minutes of the extra period while Kostitsyn's linemates, Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec, scored in regulation.
"All three guys, I think, are in top shape and we feel good with each other," Kostitsyn said.
Who's hot --
Tavares has 5 goals and 2 assists during a four-game points streak for the Islanders, while PA Parenteau has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak of his own. Defenseman James Wisniewski (1-7-8) is tied for the team lead in scoring and has points in all six games he's played. ... Kostitsyn has 4 goals and 2 assists over the Canadiens' last four games.
Injury report --
Forwards Kyle Okposo (right shoulder surgery) and Rob Schremp (strained lower back) and defenseman Mark Streit (left shoulder surgery) are all out for the Islanders. Forward Josh Bailey (strained hip flexor) was supposed to be back last Saturday, but remains a game-time decision for Wednesday. … For the Canadiens, defenseman Andrei Markov (MCL surgery) is still out but is expected to return at some point before the end of October.
Stat pack --
With a collection of various injuries hampering a few offensive contributors throughout most of the young season, it's actually quite a surprise that the Islanders are currently second in the Eastern Conference with an average of 3.25 goals a game.
Puck drop --
The Islanders need to attempt to keep the line of Kostitsyn, Plekanec and Cammalleri in check as it's obvious they are continuing to gain confidence with each passing game played together.
"I'm a big, big believer that the longer you stay together and the more chemistry you can build the more dynamic you can be offensively," Cammalleri said after Monday's game.