(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to avoid a fourth loss in five games on Saturday night as they are set to host the New York Islanders.
Following consecutive home losses to Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, Montreal ran its road winning streak to six games in a row with a victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday. The Habs were right back in action the following night in Ottawa, but were defeated 4-1 by the Senators.
Carey Price was given the night off and Dustin Tokarski made his first start since Dec. 30, giving up three goals on 34 shots faced. Two of those came in the first period, when the Canadiens were outshot 20-6.
Max Pacioretty did notch a first-period tally for the Canadiens, but Ottawa quickly responded.
"We didn't show up in the first period. That made the difference," Pacioretty said.
Pacioretty did become the first Habs player with a six-game goal streak since Denis Savard accomplished the feat between Feb. 7-March 1, 1991. Pacioretty has seven goals over his run and a team-high 21 on the season.
Though the Canadiens have lost three of their past four at home versus the Islanders, they have picked up a victory in four of the previous five encounters overall. That includes a 3-1 win in New York on Dec. 23 in the first of three meetings.
Price made 37 saves but is doubtful for this game due to an upper-body injury suffered in a collision with Columbus' Matt Calvert on Wednesday. Tokarski figures to start tonight and Joey MacDonald was recalled from the American Hockey League to serve as the backup.
Backup Chad Johnson got the start for New York and yielded three goals on 21 shots faced.
While Montreal has fallen into a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with Detroit, and three points behind front-running Tampa Bay, New York extended its lead atop the Metropolitan Division to three points over Pittsburgh after knocking off the Penguins 6-3 last night.
Kyle Okposo guided the Isles to victory with four goals as he notched his first career hat trick. Okposo, who is second on the club with 41 points, netted his second goal of the game 6:42 into the third period to spark a four- goal frame and tie the contest. He then put New York ahead for good with 8:09 to play.
Ryan Strome and Michael Grabner had the other goals, while Josh Bailey and John Tavares each posted three assists for the Islanders.
"We just tried to keep things simple and get pucks to the net," said Bailey. "I don't think we got a lot done the first two periods, but we were able to grind it out there in the third."
Jaroslav Halak turned away 21 shots in New York's fourth straight victory, one shy of matching a season high.