Canadiens look to extend streak against Tavares, Islanders

The Sports Network

3/17/2012 11:35:12 AM

(Sports Network) - The Montreal Canadiens look to extend their points streak to six games as they welcome John Tavares and the New York Islanders to the Bell Centre this evening.

Listen to the game live on TSN Radio 990 and starting at 7pm et.

The Habs opened up a home- and-home set with the Senators with a 3-2 shootout victory on Wednesday, but had to settle for a split of the encounters due to Friday's 2-1 overtime defeat in Ottawa.

Tomas Plekanec scored in the first period while shorthanded for the Canadiens, who got 31 saves from Carey Price. Montreal, though, was outshot 33-14 in the game and saw Ottawa log nine power-play opportunities.

"Some of the calls were deserved, but some you shake your head at," said Montreal head coach Randy Cunneyworth. "Beyond that, we have to play a lot smarter in certain situations."

Habs defenseman Tomas Kaberle missed his second straight game, first missing time due to personal reasons before getting scratched with an upper-body injury. Fellow blueliner Andrei Markov also missed the Ottawa game due to an upper-body issue and defender Alexei Emelin left last night's loss early in the second period with his own upper-body ailment.

The Canadiens have won their last two meetings with the Islanders and wrap the four-game set tonight looking to win the season series for the second time in three campaigns. New York has lost four of five and seven of its past 10 in Montreal.

Tavares, meanwhile, continues to make his mark with the Islanders franchise.

The young forward will look to extend his goal-scoring streak this evening and help the Isles avoid a sixth straight defeat in Saturday's matchup with the Canadiens.

This meeting features the bottom two clubs in the Eastern Conference as the Islanders are last with 67 points, one fewer than the Canadiens.

Still, the potential for excitement is there thanks to Tavares, who has scored five times in his past four games while also logging a pair of assists in that span. The 21-year-old has potted 31 tallies on the season and is the first Islander to reach 70 points in a season since Alexei Yashin posted 75 in the 2001-02 campaign.

Despite the success of Tavares, the Islanders are in danger of matching their longest losing streak of the season first set on Oct. 20-Nov. 3. They faced a red-hot Flyers goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov on Thursday and ended his club- record shutout streak when Michael Grabner scored with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation.

Tavares followed up with a goal 35 seconds later, but it wasn't enough in a 3-2 setback to Philadelphia.

"We saw how when we forecheck how successful we can be," Islanders captain Mark Streit said. "But playing 10 minutes out of 60 minutes is just not enough against a team like Philadelphia."

Evgeni Nabokov allowed three goals on 22 shots in defeat, New York's eighth in 10 games. The Isles now begin a five-game road trip and have lost seven of their past eight on the road.

The first stop is in Montreal, where they will face a Canadiens club that has points in five straight, going 3-0-2 in that span.