Canadiens at Islanders: Five things you should know


Andrew Hammond, who will make his Canadiens’ debut on Long Island, hasn’t paid in a regular-season game in the NHL since March 28, 2018.

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Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Islanders game on Sunday at UBS Arena (2 pm, TSN2, RDS, TSN-690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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The match-up: This game, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 20, is the second of three meetings between these teams. Brock Nelson scored four goals as the Islanders posted a 6-2 victory in the first meeting on Nov. 4 at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens, who are at the bottom of the NHL standings, are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis and will be looking to win two consecutive games for the first time this season. The Islanders are coming off a 4-1 win over the Bruins on Thursday, but they have struggled this season and their 18-20-6 record leaves them 16 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Hammond gets the start: The Canadiens are home to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second half of a back-to-back and the Montreal goaltenders will share the workload. Andrew Hammond will make his Canadiens’ debut on Long Island, while Sam Montembeault will face the Leafs. The 34-year-old Hammond, who was acquired from the Minnesota Wild last week, hasn’t paid in a regular-season game in the NHL since March 28, 2018, when he was with Colorado, and he didn’t play at any level last season when he was on Minnesota’s taxi squad.

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Sorokin makes breakthrough: Ilya Sorokin has wrested the Islanders’ No. 1 goaltending job from fellow Russian Semyon Varlamov. The 26-year-old Sorokin, who is in his second NHL season, has a 15-8-5 record with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage, which ranks 10th in the NHL. Varlamov, who will miss this game after entering the NHL COVID protocol, has decent numbers — a 2.57 GAA and a .916 save percentage, but he hasn’t received much offensive support from his teammates, which may account for his 3-9- 1 record Veteran Cory Schneider has joined the Islanders on an emergency loan to back up Sorokin.

Caufield delivers: Coach Martin St. Louis has shown confidence in Cole Caufield and the rookie returned the favor Thursday as he scored the tying goal in the final minute and then scored in overtime to give St. Louis his first victory as an NHL coach. Caufield has four goals in four games since St. Louis was hired. Caufield’s linemate, Nick Suzuki, leads the Canadiens with nine goals and 28 points, but he has only one assist in the past five games. Ben Chiarot practiced Saturday and is expected to play, but Joel Armia is out after getting accidentally cut in the face by Robert Thomas’ skate Thursday, and Corey Schueneman has entered the NHL COVID protocol.

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The other guys: It’s been a strange season for the Islanders, who played their first 13 games on the road while their new home, UBS Arena, was completed. They lost their next six home games before beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Dec. 11. They are 10-10-3 at home, but the good news is they are drawing 99.7 per cent of capacity. Mathew Barzal is the Islanders’ leading scorer with 33 points, including 12 goals, while the leading goal scorer is Nelson with 16, followed by Anders Lee with 12. Oliver Wahlstrom will miss this game with an upper-body injury, which forced him to leave the ice against Boston. Wahlstrom has 10 goals, but has scored only twice in the past 20 games.

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