Senators-Islanders Preview

The Ottawa Senators have a chance to take another step toward

the postseason if they can get past a team that had its playoff

hopes officially end this weekend.

The Senators will try to earn their fourth straight win Sunday

afternoon with another dominant performance against the New York

Islanders.

Ottawa (40-28-10) had scored a combined 14 goals over two games

breaking out of a losing streak and took a 3-0 lead after one

period in Philadelphia on Saturday. The Senators, though, blew that

advantage over the next 17:17 before recording a 4-3 shootout

victory.

Jason Spezza had the winning shot in the extra session and

scored the game’s opening goal for his third in four games.

“We never give up. That’s kind of the mantra we have in the

room,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose team was coming off a

four-day break. “We put ourselves in tough positions sometimes but

more often than not, we come up with a big play at the right time.

We never stop believing.”

With Spezza’s help, Ottawa will also try to maintain its faint

hopes for a division title. The Senators trail Boston by six points

in the Northeast with four games left for both clubs.

Duplicating their most recent performance at the Nassau Coliseum

might help their cause. Ottawa needs a win over the Islanders

(33-34-11) and a Bruins loss at the New York Rangers to remain in

contention.

The Senators are seeking a third straight win against the

Islanders, a team they routed 6-0 in Long Island on Feb. 20.

Defenseman Erik Karlsson had a season-high four points during that

game (two goals, two assists) and another two assists during a 5-2

home victory six days later.

This time, Ottawa will face an Islanders club that’s won five of

its last seven but denied a season-high fourth straight win

Saturday with a 6-3 home loss to Boston.

The Islanders gave up four goals in the third period of that

game and extended their playoff drought to five years. P.A.

Parenteau had two goals in the losing effort and Kyle Okposo had

one in his fifth straight game.

“Obviously we wanted a better outcome, but we stuck in there the

whole time and played hard,” forward Matt Martin told the team’s

website. “Tomorrow, if we come out the same way, I think we’ll be

okay.”

With Evgeni Nabokov dealing with a lower-body injury, the

Islanders could choose to stick with Al Montoya or give John

Grahame his first start since Feb. 18, 2008. Montoya matched his

career high for goals allowed in Saturday’s loss.

Grahame, though, hasn’t fared well in his most recent games

against the Senators, going 0-6-0 with a 3.69 goals-against

average. Montoya made his only appearance versus Ottawa in February

when he gave up four goals on 27 shots in relief of Kevin

Poulin.

Spezza scored two goals in that game and has 11 goals and 16

assists over the last 21 matchups. Okposo hasn’t scored a goal

against the Senators since Oct. 8, 2009, a span of eight

matchups.

Craig Anderson might get the chance to help continue that

drought. The Senators goaltender snapped a four-game skid to the

Islanders during his previous visit to Nassau, making 28 saves

during one of his three shutouts this season.