Montreal was competitive against the defending Stanley Cup champions in Chicago on Wednesday, and will get right back it less than 24 hours later at Bell Centre against the New York Islanders.

It will be the first meeting between the clubs since Thomas Vanek was dealt by the Islanders, after just 47 games with the club, to Montreal.

Rather than toiling away with the Islanders or league-worst Buffalo Sabres, his previous team, Vanek will be heading to the playoffs with a Canadiens team that has gone 10-2-1 over its last 13.

Vanek has six goals and nine assists in 16 games for Montreal (45-27-8), which fell 3-2 in overtime to Chicago on Wednesday. Vanek assisted on Francis Bouillon's goal 10:56 into the third that gave the Canadiens a short-lived lead.

''I thought we played a solid game,'' coach Michel Therrien said. ''On the last two goals, it was some bad coverage in front of the net."

Forward Alex Galchenyuk played only two shifts in the first period against Chicago before suffering a lower-body injury, and was reportedly seen on crutches after the game. It's not yet known how long the American will be out of the lineup.

Goaltender Carey Price and defencemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin didn't make the trip to Chicago in order to get some added rest before the playoffs. Price, who has a 1.32 goals-against average in the last three matchups with New York, will get the start in the second of a back-to-back set.

Montreal sits in second place in the Atlantic Division, three points ahead of its first-round playoff opponent, Tampa Bay, with home-ice advantage yet to be determined.

Should the Lightning lose on Thursday to Philadelphia, the Canadiens could ensure they get home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs with at least a point against the Isles.

The Habs have won three straight meetings with the Islanders, including a 1-0 victory Dec. 14 on Max Pacioretty's overtime goal.

After ending a five-year playoff drought last season, the New York Islanders made a bold move they hoped would pay immediate dividends by acquiring Vanek from Buffalo in exchange for fan favourite Matt Moulson on Oct. 27.

Vanek did his part for the short time he was in New York, but he reportedly didn't want to be a part of the franchise's future.

Vanek had 17 goals and 27 assists in 47 games for the Islanders, but the pending unrestricted free agent reportedly turned down a substantial long-term contract offer from New York in early February.

Tavares suffered a season-ending knee injury shortly after at the Olympics, Vanek was traded to Montreal for a prospect and a second-round pick March 5, and the Islanders (31-37-11) now find themselves right back near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

New York lost 4-1 to Ottawa on Tuesday, their third consecutive defeat.

''The effort has been there and will continue to be there,'' defenseman Travis Hamonic said. ''We're going to keep pushing and playing hard until the end.''

The upside is that coach Jack Capuano has gotten a long look at the Islanders' youngsters, as 11 rookies currently are on the roster.

"They are playing hard,'' Capuano said. ''When we get our team back next year and play the way we can play, I think we can make a push and get back to the dance.''

The Islanders could counter with Evgeni Nabokov, who is 2-0-2 with a 1.68 GAA over his last four starts. It's unclear if forward Cal Clutterbuck will be in the lineup after leaving Tuesday's contest with an upper-body injury.