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It will be difficult to top the intensity in the game the Montreal Canadiens played against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night, but they’ll give it a shot against Islanders in a Saturday afternoon game in Montreal.
The two teams met up only once thus far, a 4-2 win for the Habs in Long Island on December 7th. Saku Koivu was the difference in this game, scoring the winner and the forth goal of the game to put it out of reach, both game with the man advantage. Cristobal Huet was in net for the win, and should get another chance in nets after sitting the last two games in favor of David Aebischer.
Montreal’s 5-4 loss in a shoot-out to Pittsburgh marked their second loss in 3 matches since the All-Star break came to an end. However, amidst the loss, the Habs looked very good on the ice and managed to put in a full 65 minutes of hard work in order to push the game to its limit. Ultimately, Evgeni Malkin’s shoot-out goal proved the winner and the Habs had to settle with the single point.
The New York Islanders also saw action Thursday night. They played to a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. The Islanders had 2 goals from Viktor Kozlov while Jason Blake scored his 27th of the year. Trent Hunter and Miroslav Satan also scored for New York while back-up Mike Dunham picked up his third win of the season. Meanwhile, star center Alexei Yashin sat out the game with a bad right knee. It is uncertain weather or not he will be good to go against the Habs on Saturday.
Special Opponent: Christopher Higgins grew up in the New York area where Islanders play, and loves to be a thorn in this particular opponent’s side. In four games against the Islanders last season, Higgins had four goals including 1 game winner. He was also a +4 against his hometown team. This match up may be exactly what Higgins needed as the winger has not scored a single point in 7 games now, and really hasn’t been the same game-breaking player he was before his injury.
Carbo’s Steaming: Head Coach Guy Carbonneau addressed the media Friday to express his beef with the decisions made regarding Colby Armstrong’s hit on Habs’ captain Saku Koivu and the penalties assessed to Sheldon Souray when he rose to Koivu’s defense. He called Armstrong’s hit a “cheap shot” and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t assessed any penalties after he clearly dropped his gloves and even got a shot or two in on Souray before the defenseman took him down. Souray was thrown out of the game after the incident and received 27 PIMS, 7 of which the Habs had to kill off with a man down.
Gaining Ground: The New York Islanders have been moving up in the standings as of late after picking up points in 5 straight games. Three of those games have ended in wins, and the Islanders now find themselves 4 points out of a playoffs spot with 3 games in hand of the Carolina Hurricanes who sit in the eighth and final spot. It should be another playoff-like game with both the Habs and Isles looking to pick up important points in their quest for post-season play.