Canadiens-Islanders Preview

The Montreal Canadiens continue to surge after putting together

their first three-game winning streak of the season. Andrei

Kostitsyn has been a huge part of that.

Kostitsyn and the Canadiens (6-2-1) will try to sweep a

home-and-home set with the New York Islanders, who are looking

forward to getting back on their home ice.

Kostitsyn enters the game with four goals and two assists over

his previous three games after recording one of each in a 5-3 win

Wednesday night. Montreal improved to 6-0-1 against the Islanders

when the Russian scores at least one point.

Since the beginning of 2007-08, the Canadiens are 10-0-3 versus

the Islanders, outscoring them 48-23.

Carey Price made 18 saves as he won his third straight start for

the first time since Dec 27-30, 2008. Price, though, will give way

to Alex Auld as he makes his Canadiens debut following his

offseason signing.

“I’ve been waiting for this, and I’m really happy to get to

play. Whenever you make your first start with a new team it’s

always an exciting moment,” Auld told the team’s official site.

Auld’s last start came March 6 with the Rangers in a 2-0 loss to

Washington, but coach Jacques Martin is more than confident in his

ability between the pipes.

“I think Auld will be ready to play. He works very hard with our

goaltending coach and puts a lot of effort into every practice,”

Martin said . “He also has a lot of experience with this kind of

scenario and schedule.”

Auld has lost four straight starts to the Islanders since his

last win against them Jan. 14, 2006.

Andrei Markov also is expected to make his season debut Saturday

for Montreal. The veteran defenseman, who had 34 points in 45 games

last season, underwent knee surgery in May.

New York (4-3-2) returns home after a four-game road trip, where

it has yet to lose in regulation through three games (2-0-1).

Fresh off his first hat trick, John Tavares scored his

team-leading sixth goal Wednesday night on the man advantage as he

cut the Canadiens’ lead to one 13 seconds into the third period.

The second-year center enters this game with a career high-tying

five-game points streak.

“We just weren’t very sharp and they were able to generate a lot

of offense over our own mistakes” Islanders coach Scott Gordon

said.

Dwayne Roloson stopped 30 of 34 shots as he fell to 2-2-0. He is

3-3-2 with one tie and a 2.80 goals-against average lifetime versus

Montreal.

Teammate Rick DiPietro, who hasn’t started at home since Oct.

11, has lost four straight against the Canadiens and is 4-9-0

overall against them.

Josh Bailey missed the previous two games with a hip pointer but

returned to action Wednesday night and should be available for

Friday night’s matchup.

On Thursday, the Islanders decided to send fifth overall pick

Nino Niederreiter down to the Portland Winterhawks on Thursday.

“I had a great experience up here, and I was really happy to be

here,” Niederreiter said. “I think it’s better to go back to

juniors, get a little bit more experience of being a big leader up

there. In the end, I think it’s the right decision.”

Niederreiter, who had two points in nine games, became the

youngest player in team history to record a goal at 18 years and 35

days.