Sens face hungry Isles in holiday matinee
SENATORS (30-22-8) at ISLANDERS (25-25-8)
: SNET-E, MSG PLUS
: Ottawa 3-5-2; New York 6-3-1.
: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. New York earned a 2-1 overtime victory against the Sens on Feb. 3 at Scotiabank Place.
: The Islanders believe they are still very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and why not? With Saturday's 4-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Isles pulled within six points of eighth-place Toronto. The Isles have a game in hand on the Maple Leafs, which will take place Monday afternoon at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"Everyone's done a great job — especially the last few weeks," said Isles centre John Tavares, who had a pair of goals and an assist Saturday night. "Obviously, it's been up and down, but we're battling and we're still in this thing. We just need to keep it going and find way to (win) a couple in a row here."
: Ottawa struggled earlier this month, but has picked up the pace as of late. The Sens will be seeking their third straight victory Monday afternoon after earning 6-2 win at Florida on Wednesday night. Six different players scored for Ottawa, while Craig Anderson
was sharp in a 42-save performance.
"You don't score six in a game, you don't continue to win if you don't get contributions from everybody," Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
: New York bounced back from a 5-1 defeat at St. Louis on Thursday night with Saturday's victory against Carolina. Kevin Poulin, who was recalled on an emergency basis from AHL Bridgeport on Friday after Evgeni Nabokov came down with the flu, made 33 saves for his second win against Carolina in under three weeks.
Now the Isles must find a way to string a few wins together and continue to close the gap between themselves and the Maple Leafs. A win on Monday against the Sens would put them just four points out of the final playoff spot in the East.
"We're right in it," centre Frans Nielsen said. "We all believe it in here and it's going to be some big weeks coming up for us. We definitely believe we can do it."
: Sens centre Jason Spezza
has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his last five games. He had three assists in last Wednesday's win at Florida … Nielsen has five goals in his last eight contests for New York.
: Ottawa winger Jesse Winchester
(concussion) is day-to-day, while centre Peter Regin
is out for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury … The Islanders will be without goaltender Rick DiPietro (sports hernia, knee), as well as defencemen Travis Hamonic (nose), Dylan Reese (leg) and Mike Mottau (concussion).
: Isles winger PA Parenteau has two more assists Saturday night and now has 53 points this season with 24 games still to play. Parenteau finished last season with 53 points.
: Anderson gets the start in goal at Nassau Coliseum, while head coach Paul MacLean indicated Sunday he'll go with the same lineup as he used last week in Florida. That means centre Zenon Konopka
, a former Islander, and blueliner Matt Carkner
are the odd men out again today.