The result took a back seat to the health status of Phillip Danault after he was hit in the head by a puck launched by one of the hardest shooters in the game, but it has since been announced that Danault is doing well and recovering at home after having been thoroughly checked over.
It is unlikely that Danault will be ready to go, and with news that Andrew Shaw was unable to participate in practice yesterday as well, the Canadiens may need to shuffle some players around. The solution to the lineup question was to place Paul Byron at centre yesterday, and that could well be how the team lines up tonight.
It will be the last game at home before a short two-game road trip, and the Habs will want to get a positive result under their belt before leaving the Bell Centre.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the US: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
The New York Islanders will prove stiff competition, as they are fighting for a playoff berth in a Metropolitan Division that leaves little room for error. A five-game losing streak straddling the turn of the new year threatened to drop them out of contention entirely, but back-to-back wins — the latest a critical 7-2 victory over the New York Rangers — allowed them to keep pace with teams battling for the three Metro seeds.
The Islanders currently sit second-last in the division, but with how tightly grouped the teams are, a victory will see them jump over the Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers to sit one point back of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and just three back of the Columbus Blue Jackets who currently occupy the second seed.
The task will be more difficult if Josh Bailey is unable to go, forced to miss a third straight game with a lower-body injury. He has 50 points through just 42 games, working well with John Tavares on the top line.
Fortunately for the Islanders, Mathew Barzal has been more than picking up the slack, posting his second five-point game of the season in that recent win over the Rangers. The rookie now has 44 points in the same number of games, now leading the freshman scoring race by four points.
The Islanders have been getting offence from throughout their lineup, and have scored the second-most goals in the NHL this season.
Their Achilles heel has been a dreadful penalty kill that ranks 30th in the league in both efficiency (73.9%) and goals allowed (36). The situation is even worse away from Barclays Center, surviving just 68.5% of their times short-handed in someone else’s building.
That isn’t usually much of a concern for a team facing a Canadiens squad that struggles just to set up in the zone, but that Habs have slowly pulled their power play into respectability over the past month. The Habs have seven power-play goals in their past 10 games, with Alex Galchenyuk once more finding success after being put in his usual place in the middle of the faceoff circle.
Should the Habs hope to overcome the offence of tonight’s opponent, fighting fire with fire may prove the most successful strategy.