It’s been a difficult season for the Montreal Canadiens, and the lack of offensive production has been one of the reasons. On Monday night, the team was shut out for the ninth time this year as they were unable to solve Philadelphia Flyers newcomer Petr Mrazek.
The Canadiens were able to overcome the lack of goals thanks to the play of their own netminder. Charlie Lindgren made 33 stops through regulation and overtime to earn the second shutout of his young career, falling in the shootout. The rookie now has a career record of 8-4-2, and has looked good in nearly every game he’s played with the NHL club.
A game versus the team that has allowed the most goals this season may be what the Habs need to gain some offensive confidence. The New York Islanders have given up nine more goals than the 30th-ranked Ottawa Senators this season, surrending an average of more than three-and-a-half goals per game.
The Canadiens will be better equipped to exploit that weakness with the return of Nikita Scherbak to the lineup. He returns after a brief stint in the AHL, though it appears he will have to work his magic from the fourth line in tonight’s game, if the lines hold from what was seen in yesterday’s practice.
The game will also offer the first chance to see the newest Canadien, Mike Reilly, in uniform. The deadline-day acquisition had played off-and-on for the Minnesota Wild this season, and will replace David Schlemko on the third pairing opposite Jordie Benn.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet
In the Canadiens region: RDS (French)
In the Islanders region: MSG+
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
Despite allowing 225 goals in 63 games, the Islanders are still in the playoff hunt. They currently sit just outside of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, though they do have a four-point deficit to make up on the Columbus Blue Jackets to get there.
Both the Isles’ offensive prowess and defensive struggles were on display when the Canadiens last faced them in mid-January. The Canadiens launched 56 shots on goal through 65 minutes of play, beating Thomas Greiss four times. The Islanders were able to match what the Habs did, thanks to a three-point effort from Mathew Barzal, and John Tavares was able to claim the victory for his team in overtime.
Barzal hasn’t slowed down any since that game. The rookie now has 66 points through 63 matches, and has leapfrogged even superstar centre Tavares to grasp the team scoring lead. He has had 13 other multi-point performances to go along with the one he achieved in Montreal, and has had at least three points eight times this year, hitting five on the three occasions.
Despite no longer holding the points lead, Tavares has still had an exceptional season, scoring at better than a point-per-game pace while playing an average of more than 20 minutes per night.
The dynamic offence proved too difficult for the Habs to contain in their first meeting of the season. With just 19 games left for the Islanders to pull themselves into a playoff spot, things won’t be any easier tonight.