We'll get the pertinent changes out of the way at the top for tonight's meeting between the Islanders and Canadiens:
- Michael Grabner returns to the lineup (Eric Boulton sits).
- Kevin Poulin gets his first start since Feb. 24 (and just his second of the season).
Matt Carkner also re-enter the lineup, returning from a groin injury that's kept him out since Feb. 5. He replaces Radek Martinek.
Islanders (13-13-3, 10th/E) vs. Canadiens (19-5-5, 2nd/E)
7 p.m. EST | MSG+ | Audio: NHL - WRHU
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Mem. Coliseum
Extension Central: Habs Eyes on the Prize
The Islanders, as has oft been noted, don't have much margin for blown opportunities like Tuesday vs. the Senators. Although there is a middling bubble of meh around the last few seeds of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, there are four teams immediately above the Islanders that have a nice advantage with under 20 games to go: Each of the four has at least three more points (32+) -- and the Islanders have a game in hand on only two of them, the 34-point Leafs and the 9th-place Devils.
While the standings particulars change nightly, the candy store proliferation of three-point games hands out false hope and frustration in equal measures. With the Islanders playing back-to-back and facing the dominant Penguins at home Friday night, tonight's game is kind of a big deal.
Of some possible reassurance: The Isles have beaten the Canadiens both times this season, in no small thanks to Matt Moulson being awesome. They've benefited from four powerplay goals on nine opportunities, though they've also conceded three on nine opportunities to the Habs.
D.C.-Area Isles Fans: Gathering at 51st State Tonight?
If you're in the D.C. area and up for watching tonight's game with LHH friends, check this FanShot. Please weigh in there, so CC and any other intendeds know of your plans: 51st State Tavern, 2512 L Street NW (walking distance from the Foggy Bottom Metro), at the upstairs bar.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread. Standings remain the same, since none of you were prescient enough to pick Keith Aucoin last game.