Islanders look to extend winning streak against Canadiens
NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders have established themselves as one of the surprise stories of the NHL by dominating within their division. Now the Islanders will look to see if they can carry that over to non-Metropolitan Division foes.
The Islanders will look to extend the Eastern Conference's longest winning streak on Monday night, when they host the Montreal Canadiens at Barclays Center.
Both teams were off Sunday after playing Saturday, when the Islanders won their fifth straight game by blanking the visiting New Jersey Devils, 3-0, and the host Canadiens fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1.
All five wins by the Islanders (8-4-1) have come within the division. New York, which is atop the Metropolitan Division, is 6-0-0 against the Metro, its best divisional start since it was 6-0-0 against the Patrick Division in 1982-83.
While it's unlikely the Islanders will remain perfect within the division, the plethora of so-called "four-point wins" has given them a little bit more margin for error going forward. New York, which was predicted by most to miss the playoffs following the free agent departure of star center John Tavares, has an 84.9 percent chance to reach the postseason, according to the playoff probability report issued Sunday by the hockey-reference.com website.
"These are big points, especially early on," said Islanders center Brock Nelson, who scored his team-high seventh goal Saturday night. "Lind of stack as many as you can right away. To go 6-0 right away off the hop obviously is great for us."
The Canadiens (7-4-2) are also off to a surprising start after missing the playoffs in two of the previous three seasons, though Montreal has slowed a bit by alternating losses with wins in each of its last seven games.
Things aren't likely to get any easier Monday for the Canadiens, who have scored one goal in each of their last two losses. Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, who is likely to draw the start Monday, authored a shutout Saturday night, when he made 35 saves against the Devils, and has allowed just three goals on 79 shots in his last three appearances.
"Every goalie that you face is in the NHL for a reason," Canadiens left winger Max Domi told reporters Saturday after he scored the only goal against the Lightning's Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made 34 saves. "They're going to do their job and try and stop the puck and we've got to do our job and kind of break that. We weren't able to do that tonight."
Carey Price, who has made four straight starts, appears in line to start again Monday night in the opener of a back-to-back set in New York for the Canadiens. Montreal visits the Rangers on Tuesday night. Price took the loss Saturday after making 32 saves against the Lightning.
Greiss is 3-3-0 in six career games against the Canadiens. Price is 11-5-4 in 20 appearances against the Islanders.