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Islanders vs. Canadiens: Mathew Barzal takes a turn

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A nagging Nikolai Kulemin injury gives the 19-year-old another look

NHL: New York Islanders at Montreal Canadiens
An unconventional formation
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders host the unblemished (in regulation) Montreal Canadiens Wednesday with a couple of new looks for both teams.

For the Canadiens, goalie Al Montoya faces his old team — but in a different arena — as the Habs begin the first of a back-to-back set. The Canadiens (5-0-1) generally live and die by Carey Price, but Montoya has been stellar so far this season too, putting up a .962 save percentage while being in goal (2-0-1) for their only non-win, a shootout loss.

In their attempt to be the first team this season to defeat the Canadiens in regulation — they went 0-for-3 last season — the Islanders expect to have two 19-year-olds in the lineup. Center Mathew Barzal is set to appear in just his second NHL game, thanks to an injury removing Nikolai Kulemin from the lineup for just his second time as an Islander.

That means Barzal will be in the lineup at the same time as fellow 19-year-old rookie Anthony Beauvillier for the first time. Beauvillier is actually tied for the teams points lead with five (1-4) and increasingly looks like he’ll stay well past any nine-game NHL-or-juniors trial.

Barzal’s position is another matter; we’ve only seen him in one real game so far, a game where he showed his creativity on the power play and at even strength but also spent six minutes in the penalty box.

Thomas Greiss will get his second consecutive start for the Islander after backstopping their 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.

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