(Sports Network) - The surging Montreal Canadiens will aim for a fourth consecutive win tonight, when they close a home-and-home series against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
The Canadiens have won three in a row and five of their last six games and are now leading the Northeast Division with 13 points. Montreal is currently in the midst of its longest winning streak since recording six victories in a row from March 6-16 of last season.
Montreal has to like its chances of extending its winning streak tonight, as the Habs have dominated the recent series with the Islanders. The Canadiens posted a 5-3 home win over New York in the opener of this set on Wednesday, giving Montreal five wins in the last six meetings with the Isles.
The Habs have 11 victories in the last 14 overall meetings with the Isles and have also taken six out of eight at the Coliseum.
Jeff Halpern scored the game-winner for the Canadiens on Wednesday and he also added an assist in Montreal's latest triumph.
Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn also had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, while Carey Pricestopped 18 shots to improve to 6-2-1 on the season.
"We wanted to come out with a good start and so far that has been the case," said Price. "We're kind of doing this in segments. Every five games you want to win a certain amount of games and so far we're doing good."
After starting in every game for the Habs this year, Price will finally get a night off this evening as Alex Auld is scheduled to make his Canadiens debut. Auld was 9-7-3 with a 2.96 goals-against average last year while splitting time with Dallas and the New York Rangers.
"I've been waiting for this, and I'm really happy to get to play. Whenever you make your first start with a new team it's always an exciting moment," Auld told the Canadiens' official web site.
The Canadiens are also very close to getting their top defenseman Andrei Markov back on the ice. The Russian blueliner has missed the entire season so far while recovering from offseason knee surgery, but he is expected to make his season debut either tonight or Saturday evening against Florida.
Markov, who is an excellent all-around defenseman and a skilled quarterback on the power play, hasn't played since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Pittsburgh last spring.
Meanwhile, the Islanders will be trying to avoid their first three-game skid of the season tonight. They had won three straight prior to dropping the third and fourth games of a road trip that ended Wednesday in Quebec.
James Wisniewski had a goal and two assists in the recent loss, while Doug Weight added a goal and an helper. Both Wisniewski and John Tavares, who also had a goal in the loss to the Habs, bring five-game point streaks into tonight's tilt.
Dwayne Roloson took the loss after stopping 30-of-34 shots. Rick DiPietro is expected to be back between the pipes for the Isles tonight. DiPietro is 4-9-0 with a 2.63 GAA in 15 career games against Montreal.
The Islanders will not have rookie forward Nino Niederreiter in the lineup, as the club returned the 2010 first-round pick to Portland of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old native of Switzerland made the Islanders' roster out of training camp, but tallied only one goal and two points with a minus-one rating in nine contests this season. Because the Islanders made the move before Niederreiter's 10th game, his entry-level contract will still have three years remaining next season.
In injury news, the Islanders have a pair of forwards questionable for tonight's game in Michael Grabner (groin) and Trent Hunter.