The New York Islanders are showing signs of turning around a sluggish stretch. The Ottawa Senators aren't, and a lousy first period their last time out only solidified that.
The Islanders may have a chance to move into second place in the Metropolitan Division as they try to beat the Senators for the fourth time in five tries on the road Friday night.
New York (24-15-6) is one point back of the Rangers for second place in the division despite going 6-7-1 following an 8-0-2 stretch.
The Islanders, though, have momentum following a 2-0-1 homestand. Ryan Strome scored with 51 seconds left in regulation Sunday, forcing overtime only for New York to fall 2-1 in a shootout to Vancouver. The point provided some solace.
"It's a little disheartening, but we just have to keep going," right wing Kyle Okposo told the team's official website. "Five points out of six (this week). We came from behind in a couple of them. We can't be too upset. ... We played pretty well."
John Tavares is having a tough time getting on the score sheet lately. The center has failed to score in a season-high six straight games, chipping in just two assists with a minus-4 rating over that stretch.
Tavares has four points in 10 visits to Ottawa, none in the last four overall matchups.
The Islanders might have defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower body) in the lineup for the first time in five games.
"If he feels that he can go, there's no reason I'm not going to put him in the lineup," coach Jack Capuano said.
Hamonic's return will force Capuano to decide if he's going to continue using Calvin de Haan and Nick Leddy together as his top defensive pairing. De Haan was filling in for Hamonic in that spot.
"It's the best hockey he's played," Capuano said of de Haan. "He's a top-pairing defenseman for our hockey team right now. He's earned the minutes that he's getting. He's taking advantage of those minutes. He's the reason that we're having some success right now with his play on the back end."
New York is looking for a better defensive effort in this visit to Ottawa (22-19-6). The Islanders gave up three unanswered goals, including Erik Karlsson's overtime winner in a 3-2 loss Dec. 5 to end its three-game winning streak in the Canadian capital.
The Senators are three points behind Boston and New Jersey in the race for the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference. They're not doing themselves any favors, losing seven of their last 11 games while giving up an average of 3.81 goals.
Ottawa was hammered for five first-period tallies of Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Devils. It was the most goals the Senators have allowed in an opening period since giving up the same amount in a defeat to the Quebec Nordiques on March 26, 1995.
"We obviously can't start a game like that," defenseman Cody Ceci said. "We dug ourselves a huge hole. We tried to play catch up the whole game, everyone's down. We can't do that again. The league's too good for that."
Mike Hoffman had a goal Thursday, giving him a team-leading 21 on the season. The left wing scored with 37 seconds left in regulation to force overtime against the Islanders last month.
Karlsson assisted on the other two goals in that victory. The two-time Norris Trophy winner has 14 points over his past 10 meetings with New York.