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Canadiens Game Day: It s a big night for scoreboard watching

Canadiens Game Day: It s a big night for scoreboard watching
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The Canadiens (38-28-7) head into the game four points behind the Carolina Hurricanes (40-25-7), who hold the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets (40-29-4), who hold the second and final spot.

The Hurricanes play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night (7 p.m., TVA Sports), while the Blue Jackets visit the Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m., SNE, SN1, TVA Sports).

Heading into Thursday’s games, the sportsclubstats.com website had the Canadiens’ chances of making the playoffs listed at 30.6 per cent. The Canadiens have one game remaining against both the Hurricanes and the Blue Jackets, playing in Carolina Sunday night and in Columbus next Thursday.

The Canadiens lost 2-1 to the Islanders last Thursday night in New York after a breakdown in the offensive zone that started with a bad pass by Jonathan Drouin and included a giveaway at the blue line by Max Domi that resulted in a two-on-one break the other way with Anders Lee scoring the winning goal at 17:03 of the third period.

“We were all disappointed with how we played,” Andrew Shaw said about that game after the Canadiens’ morning skate Thursday. “They outcompeted us, outworked us, outchanced us. We’ll have a better game right from puck drop.

“We’ve played good over the last few games,” Shaw added. “(Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey) Crawford played really good when he was here (making 48 saves to shut out the Canadiens 2-0 at the Bell Centre last Saturday night). We kept that momentum going into Philly and we had a great game in Philly (beating the Flyers 3-1 on Tuesday). We did the little things right and gave us a chance to get the two points.

“I think (the momentum) is huge, but we’re playing a team (the Islanders) that played Boston last and lost 5-0 (Tuesday night) so you know they’re going to have a chip on their shoulder and they’re going to come out flying. So we got to match that and we got to carry the momentum we got from last game into tonight as well.”

This will be the third and final meeting this season between the Canadiens and Islanders. The Canadiens won the first game 4-3 in a shootout on Nov. 5 in New York.

The Islanders had the worst defence in the NHL last season, allowing an average of 3.57 goals per game and missing the playoffs with a 35-37-10 record. This season, under new head coach Barry Trotz, they have the best defence, allowing an average of 2.37, and are in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 42-24-7 record, three points behind the Capitals (43-23-8).

The Islanders’ 2-1 win over the Canadiens last Thursday marked the 26th time this season they have allowed one goal or less in a game. The Islanders goaltending duo of Thomas Greiss (five) and Robin Lehner (four) have combined for nine shutouts.

Last season, Trotz led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history before being hired by the Islanders.

“I think a coach brings his beliefs and, more or less, his system and puts it into place,” Julien said about Trotz, who is a leading candidate to win the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach this season. “There’s a lot of those things that I see as far as what Washington did last year and what the Islanders are doing this year. They play a pretty sound game. I think if anything right now they look like a team that really wants to play a solid, systematic game and wait for you to crack. And that’s what we did last game. We cracked at the end and they took advantage of it.

“I think we just need to be ready to play as a team and as lines and as individuals and just bring our game and hopefully impose our game on them,” Julien added. “We feel our game is pretty good when we’re on top of it and we weren’t the last time we played them, so we need to be better tonight.”

The Islanders will be without forward Valtteri Filppula, who is sidelined with an upper-body injury.

Julien won’t make any changes to his lineup that beat the Flyers Tuesday night in Philadelphia. That means forwards Matthew Peca, Nicolas Deslauriers, Charles Hudon and Dale Weise will be healthy scratches, along with defenceman Mike Reilly.

Carey Price will start in goal. He has a 2-2-0 with a 1.52 goals-against-average and a .948 save percentage in his last four games.
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