While the Montreal Canadiens continue to make strides in the right direction, the New York Islanders are still struggling to find something positive to build on during their extended rough stretch.
The Canadiens look to extend their recent success while trying to hand the Islanders a fifth consecutive loss Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Montreal (8-7-3) won Wednesday for the seventh time in 10 games following a six-game skid, beating Carolina 4-0. Carey Price stopped 25 shots for his first shutout since last season's playoffs, while defenseman P.K. Subban had a goal with an assist and Tomas Plekanec added two assists to help the Canadiens record a point in their fourth straight game.
"It was a solid effort all the way through," captain Brian Gionta said. "We were doing the right things."
The Canadiens have done well while killing off all 18 of their opponents' power plays over the last five games. The Hurricanes went 0 for 6 on Wednesday.
In addition to his solid defensive work, Subban has five points in his last five games after totaling three in his previous 13 contests. He assisted on Travis Moen's sixth goal Wednesday as Moen matched his goal output from last season, when he played in 79 games.
Though Price has allowed four goals in each game while splitting his previous two starts on Long Island, he could be in net for this back-to-back scenario after posting his 13th career shutout.
Montreal is 12-1-4 in its last 17 meetings with New York, but the Islanders won the final two last season, including 4-1 at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 26.
New York (4-8-3) hopes to recapture some of that success against the Canadiens as it tries to break out of a 1-7-3 stretch that followed a three-game winning streak.
"It's frustrating," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, whose team is 0-3-1 since a 5-3 win over Washington on Nov. 5.
The Islanders' frustration grew after they fell 4-2 to the rival New York Rangers on Tuesday. Matt Moulson tied the game early in the third period, but Brad Richards scored the winner with 4:55 remaining and Ryan Callahan added an empty-netter for the Rangers.
"These are the ones you really have to learn from," defenseman Travis Hamonic told the Islanders' official website. "(The win) was right there (for the taking). We had it. We made just one mistake and it ended up in our net.
"At the end of the day we have to learn from that and now this one is put away. It's a bad feeling. This is a feeling we don't want anymore."
Frans Nielsen had a goal with an assist for the Eastern Conference-worst Islanders, who have been outscored 18-8 over the last four games, including 9-1 in the third period during that stretch.
Star forward John Tavares had an assist Tuesday, giving him 11 points - seven goals - in nine home games. He had two goals and an assist in four games against the Canadiens in 2010-11, although he was a minus-5.
Evgeni Nabokov could make a third consecutive start after he made 26 saves against the Rangers. The veteran netminder is 5-2-0 with a 2.87 goals-against average versus Montreal.
Plekanec, who leads the Canadiens with 12 assists to go with four goals, has a goal in five consecutive games against the Islanders and a point in eight straight.