Canadiens look to get back on track vs. Islanders

MONTREAL, QC — After back-to-back shootout losses, the Montreal Canadiens look to get back into the win column as they host the New York Islanders on Thursday evening.

The Canadiens (23-29-10) played their first game post trade deadline. Longtime staple down the middle Tomas Plekanec was shipped to a division rival in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Captain Max Pacioretty, who was rumored to be on the chopping block, stayed with the team when the 3 PM trade deadline came and went.

Montreal has been struggling all season, and have only won only once in its last nine games, going 1-4-4. Tuesday night, the Canadiens were shut out by the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 in the sixth round of the shootout. Charlie Lindgren made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season. With Carey Price sidelined with a concussion, it was Lindgren’s first start since Nov. 21.

“It felt really good, right from puck drop. I think I made a couple of saves early and it got me into the game and I felt kind of in the zone,” Lindgren told Canadiens.com. “Every time I’m up here, I want to take advantage of my opportunities and prove myself. That’s my mindset. Every time I’m in the cage, I just want to give the team the best chance to win.”

In the shootout, coach Claude Julien made the controversial move of putting defenseman David Schlemko in the sixth round, ahead of leading scorers Brendan Gallagher and Pacioretty. Getting shut out this season is nothing new to the Canadiens, as this was the ninth time this season.

The Islanders (29-27-7) are currently a team on the playoff bubble, currently sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of the Columbus Blue Jackets, with both teams playing 63 games.

Their trade deadline saw them make a couple of minor moves. They acquired former Canadiens blueliner Brandon Davidson on Saturday before acquiring forward Chris Wagner from Anaheim on Monday afternoon. In return they shipped veteran Jason Chimera to California.

“I try to be as hard working as possible every shift that I’m on the ice,” Wagner told Islanders.com. “Definitely a physical player, not really a big guy, but try to play bigger than I am. Obviously try to chip in on offense now and then. I think I’ve developed my penalty kill role throughout the pros.”

Captain John Tavares, slated to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1, is co-leading the team in goals with Anders Lee. Both have 30 goals this season, and Tavares has 64 points. Standout rookie Matthew Barzal is atop the leaderboard with 66 points. The 20-year-old former first round, 16th overall is also a front runner for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. He has already posted three five-point nights this season.

Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who played the first four seasons of his NHL career in Montreal, is leading the team with 18 wins this season. Backup Thomas Greiss has 11.

Thursday night’s game will be the second meeting between these two clubs this season. In their only other matchup, back on Jan. 15, Montreal clawed back twice from two-goal deficits to force overtime, but it was Tavares who had the last hurrah as his goal 1:51 into overtime was the decisive winner.