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Canadiens @ Islanders: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

After limiting the Hurricanes to just one point, Montreal tries to interject themselves in the Metropolitan playoff conversation once more.

Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ New York Islanders

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Islanders region: MSG+
Streaming: Live

If there is such a thing as a positive when it comes to blowing so many multi-goal leads in a season, it’s that the Montreal Canadiens have gotten accustomed to their opponents getting back on even terms in contests they should have been out of, and the Habs can regroup once the differential returns to zero.

Sitting on the bench for some of those surrendered leads in the month of February, Charlie Lindgren did his part to make sure the Carolina Hurricanes only scored three goals through regulation. He made a big glove save with just over a second on the clock, then stopped one more in overtime before Jeff Petry could end it. The defenceman moved into a four-way tie on the team for both extra-time winners (two) and game-winning tallies (three).

Petry’s first winner of the season wasn’t quite as dramatic as his two scored at three-on-three, giving Montreal a 3-0 lead versus the New York Islanders. On that day in early December the opponent didn’t get to complete the comeback, falling 4-2 at the Bell Centre.

Montreal now heads to New York for the second of three games in the season series with the Islanders, one of the final games that the team will play at Barclays Center.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistic Islanders
Canadiens Statistic Islanders
30-28-9 Record 35-21-8
1-0-0 H2H Record 0-1-0
54.4% (1st) Corsi-for pct. 46.3% (29th)
2.97 (17th) Goals per game 2.78 (22nd)
3.07 (17th) Goals against per game 2.70 (6th)
18.5% (20th) PP% 17.5% (24th)
78.7% (19th) PK% 80.7% (16th)

The Islanders recently announced that they will be playing any post-season games this year at Nassau Coliseum, but they have to get into the playoffs before anyone needs to worry about a venue. To that end, Lou Lamoriello used the trade deadline to scoop up one of the top players available.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s exceptional start to the 2019-20 season earned him the chance to finish on a team with a shot at qualifying for the post-season, leaving the 23-31-12 Ottawa Senators behind and joining the club currently sitting in the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. On the same day he was traded, he signed a six-year extension with his new team to become a major part of its core going forward.

Pageau made two different impressions in his first game, dropped right into the New York rivalry. He scored his first goal in an Islanders jersey in the second period versus the Rangers, then earned 17 minutes in penalties in the third period for instigating a fight with Jacob Trouba. Despite losing in overtime, Pageau was still named a star of the game for his debut showing.

Believe it or not, Pageau actually has more points against the Rangers now (7-7—14 in 18 games) than he does versus Montreal (9-4—13 in 23 games) in regular-season play.

The story was exactly the same in the next game: Pageau had a goal, his team had an overtime loss. Despite the change of scenery, the results have been familiar, with those two defeats followed up by a 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

It helps that many of the other teams in the Metropolitan Division are playing just as poorly. Carolina has been scuffling along with about a .500 points percentage in the new year. Judging by just how much room the Canadiens had versus their decimated defence on Saturday, they may find it difficult to increase that mark without some of the regular blue-liners returning to the lineup. The Columbus Blue Jackets have two wins in their past 12 games, and now go on a trip through Western Canada. Even the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and now Jason Zucker on the team, have lost six games in a row.

As we saw in the Atlantic Division standings a few weeks ago, few of the teams vying for the playoff spots actually seem to want to grab them. Good stretches from the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have them climbing over virtually idle opponents like the Islanders with just five weeks left to play.

If the Islanders want to solidify their place, they need to get up off the mat before their competitors do. Montreal has been able to surprise those desperate teams with quick starts in the last couple of games, and there’s no reason they won’t provide more of the same now that all expectations are off. It will just be a matter of making that start hold up.