Islanders-Canadiens Preview

Already dealing with a delicate off-ice situation, the last thing the New York Islanders may need right now is another matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Especially with a healthy Carey Price.

Fresh off Price's triumphant return, the Canadiens aim for a home-and-home sweep of the Islanders as the teams face off Sunday night at Bell Centre.

Price showed little rust in his first game back from a lower-body injury that had sidelined the reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy recipient since Oct. 29, making 33 saves in the Canadiens' 5-3 win in Brooklyn.

"He looked like he was right on top his game," Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry. "He played well and made some big saves for us."

It's unclear whether Price will draw another start or if Mike Condon will get the nod Sunday. Both own victories over New York (10-7-3) this season to extend Montreal's series win streak to five and give the Canadiens eight wins in the last nine meetings.

Price is 6-1-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average over that stretch. Condon made 17 saves in a 4-1 triumph in Montreal on Nov. 5.

The Islanders were sloppy early on in their first outing since news of Travis Hamonic's trade request became public, surrendering first-period goals to Petry, Tomas Fleischmann and Nathan Beaulieu to build a deficit they couldn't recover from.

''They seemed like they were just a little sharper, a little crisper, a little bit more on their toes early and it seemed to take us a while to get going," captain John Tavares said. "We were behind the 8-ball at that point.''

Petry also scored the eventual game-winner in the second period for the defenseman's first career multi-goal game.

''He was unbelievable,'' Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. ''Not only offensively, but defensively he was really sharp.''

Hamonic recorded his first goal of the season in the loss. The defenseman has asked the team to be traded closer to his Winnipeg-area home because of an undisclosed family matter.

Brock Nelson added two goals for New York, giving him five over a five-game point streak in which he's scored in four straight.

Brendan Gallagher has a point in seven consecutive games for Montreal (15-4-2) after an empty-net goal in the final seconds. The top-line wing has four goals and five assists over the run and produced a goal and an assist in the home win over the Islanders earlier this month.

Montreal is averaging 3.5 goals and given Jaroslav Halak problems in both previous meetings. The former Canadien was pulled after one period Friday and stopped 20 of 23 shots in the Nov. 5 loss.

Halak, who spent his first four NHL seasons with Montreal from 2006-10, has a 5.46 GAA in his last three encounters with his ex-team. He saved just 27 of 33 chances in a 6-4 loss at Bell Centre on Jan. 17.

Thomas Greiss turned back 15 of 16 attempts in relief, an effort that could earn him his first start since Nov. 13. The German owns a 2.17 GAA this season and has yielded three goals in winning his last two starts, road victories over San Jose and Anaheim.

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