Canadiens-Islanders Preview

The Montreal Canadiens’ offense suddenly has gone cold following

the team’s recent surge, leaving coach Michel Therrien

concerned.

A date with the slumping New York Islanders could help solve

those woes.

Montreal looks to avoid a third straight defeat when it visits

New York on Saturday night.

The Canadiens (19-11-3) have followed a 9-0-1 stretch with

Tuesday’s 6-0 loss to Los Angeles and a 2-1 defeat at Philadelphia

on Thursday. They registered 32 non-shootout goals during their run

but have failed to generate much offensively over the last two.

Montreal finished with 21 shots against the Flyers.

“It will take a lot of intensity on offense to get ourselves out

of this hole,” Therrien said. “It’s been two games that I’ve been

noticing that we need to up our offense a notch.

“Our work ethic is what will get us through this stretch. We’re

not throwing enough pucks at the opposing team’s net.”

Alex Galchenyuk’s goal came with 56 seconds remaining in the

last game.

“For whatever reason, we just weren’t playing the way that we

were supposed to play in the first period,” defenseman Josh Gorges

said. “We got ourselves behind the eight ball. I thought as the

game went on we did play better, but it’s too tough in this league

to try and come from behind and scratch one out.”

Facing an Islanders team that ranks among the worst in the NHL

with 115 non-shootout goals allowed could help cure the Canadiens’

offensive issues.

New York (9-19-5) has lost 11 of 12, giving up at least four

goals seven times in that stretch. It fell 6-3 to Phoenix on

Thursday to conclude a 1-4-0 road trip.

Captain John Tavares, Eric Boulton and Kyle Okposo scored.

“To give up six goals like that and leave our goalie out to dry

after making some big saves again is unacceptable,” said Tavares,

who has two goals and three assists over the last three. “We’re not

going to win too many hockey games if we’re getting back to habits

like that.”

Coach Jack Capuano hopes New York can sort out its issues as it

tries to avoid a fifth straight home loss.

”We just couldn’t get in a rhythm, and for whatever reason we

tried to over-handle the puck,” Capuano said. “You’re not going to

have success in this league. Guys are too fast, too strong.”

Kevin Poulin made 31 saves, but he’s 1-7-0 with a 4.03

goals-against average over his last eight starts. The Islanders

could choose to start Evgeni Nabokov, who was activated from

injured reserve and backed up Poulin on Thursday.

Nabokov hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury against

Detroit on Nov. 16. He’s 7-3-0 with a 2.86 GAA in 11 career starts

against the Canadiens.

Galchenyuk and Lars Eller had a goal and two assists apiece, and

Carey Price made 24 saves in Montreal’s 4-2 win over the Islanders

on Nov. 10.

Price won seven straight starts before losing the last two,

posting a 2.14 GAA during that stretch. He’s 4-1-1 with a 2.98 GAA

in his last six starts against the Islanders.

Tavares has two goals and five assists during a four-game point

streak against the Canadiens after recording two assists in the

first meeting this season.