ISLANDERS (20-22-7) at SENATORS (27-20-6)
TV: MSG PLUS, SNET-East, TVA
LAST 10: New York 6-3-1; Ottawa 5-5-0
Season Series: Amazingly, these Eastern Conference rivals have gone four months into the season without playing each other. They split four games last season, with the Islanders winning the last two, including a 4-3 victory in Ottawa on Feb. 15.
Big Story: The Senators have been one of the surprises of the season and come into the game alone in sixth place in the East, though they're coming off a disappointing 4-3 loss at Boston on Tuesday in a game they led 3-1 in the second period. The Isles, meanwhile, rode a four-point night from John Tavares to a 5-2 road victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Islanders: Tavares put the finishing touches on a memorable month with his third four-point outing of the season as the Islanders scored three unanswered goals in the final period to fend off the Hurricanes on Tuesday. The 21-year-old centre was named the NHL's First Star for January after reeling off 22 points in 13 games during the month.
Tavares is among the league leaders with 53 points in 49 games this season, and continues to facilitate scoring chances for his linemate Matt Moulson, who scored his 23rd goal of the season in Tuesday's win.
"I try to approach each game with the same mindset and same work ethic," Tavares said. "Obviously, you get to know the teams and who you're playing against, but I just try to go off my hard work. My linemates have been phenomenal."
Senators: After hosting the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game last weekend, the Senators got off to a fast start at Boston on Tuesday. Colin Greening tied the game late in the opening period before Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson scored in the second period to give the Sens a 3-1 lead. But Milan Lucic scored with 45 seconds remaining in the period, and the Bruins scored twice in the third to rally past the Senators.
"I thought we played hard. They played maybe a little bit harder for 60 minutes," Karlsson told the Ottawa Sun. "We could have won this game. We didn't play a full 60 minutes."
Who's Hot: PA Parenteau has four goals and nine assists in his last 11 contests, and has compiled 45 points in 49 games for New York this season … Karlsson has been a point-per-game force for Ottawa since the turn of the calendar year, registering three goals and 10 assists over his last 13 games.
Injury Report: Ottawa's Brian Lee (lower body) could miss Friday's game. Peter Regin (shoulder) is out for the remainder of the season, while Jesse Winchester (concussion) is still out … Rick DiPietro (season-ending sports hernia surgery), Mike Mottau (concussion) and Marty Reasoner (broken hand) are out for the Islanders.
Stat Pack: Tavares' four-point night on Tuesday helped him become the first Islander to score 50-plus points in three straight seasons since Mariusz Czerkawski.
Puck Drop: "We've got to be happy overall," Daniel Alfredsson told the Ottawa Sun when asked about his team's play in Boston. "They scored two power-play goals. I thought, five-on-five, we were the better team and it's frustrating to lose [that] one. We just couldn't get that next goal really separating us from [Boston]."