Pregame Report: New York Islanders vs. Ottawa Senators

Sept 29, 2013; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders centre

Peter Regin

(16) and Ottawa Senators centre

Stephane Da Costa

(24) face off in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the New York Islanders (4-5-3, 11 pts) visit the Ottawa Senators (4-6-2, 10 pts) in game no. 13 of the 2013-14 NHL season. Here’s what you need to know before puck drop…

Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
When: Friday Nov. 1st, 7:30 p.m. EST
Watch: MSG+
Listen: 88.7FM WRHU, 103.9FM WRCN

The Isles and the Senators are both struggling to remain at .500 early in the season, and both teams can point to their team defense as the reason for several of their respective October losses. Both clubs are giving up 3.08 goals per game to opposing teams, which places them in a tie for fifth worst in the NHL.

Tonight’s matchup looks like it could be a high-scoring affair.

Frans Nielsen continues to lead the Islanders in points with 15 (7G, 8A), although team captain John Tavares is hot on his heels with 13 (4G, 9A) on the strength of a now-snapped 10-game point streak.

Tavares will look to build some chemistry with new left winger Thomas Vanek, acquired in a trade Sunday night for Matt Moulson, a 2014 first-round pick, and a 2015 second-round pick. Vanek recorded a single shot on goal in Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

Ottawa blueliner Erik Karlsson is tied for the league lead among defensemen with 11 points (3G, 8A), continuing to produce despite his team’s rocky start. He’s showing no ill effects from the Achilles injury he suffered Feb. 13 last season.

In addition to worrying about Karlsson on the offensive side of the puck, the Isles will have to contend with Jason Spezza, who’s off to a fast start with seven goals and five assists for the Senators in the team’s first eleven games.

The game may come down to a battle of special teams. The Islanders boast one of the NHL’s best power play units, while the Senators have a top-third penalty kill percentage league wide.

This will be the first game of a back-to-back for the Islanders, as tomorrow night they head to Boston to take on the Bruins.

What They’re Saying…

“Our defense has to play better. We played decent, but we’re making the same mistakes.”–Islanders head coach Jack Capuano on the 3-2 loss to New York“We scored five goals, we should win the game. We need to take a little bit more pride and keep the puck out of our net and play a little tougher in front of our net.”–Senators goaltender Craig Anderson on the team’s loss to Chicago

Quick Hitters…

  • Thomas Vanek is expected to play in his 600th career NHL game tonight; he has 497 career points (254G, 243A) to date
  • John Tavares had his NHL season-high 10-game point streak (4G, 9A) snapped Tuesday night against the New York Rangers; his career-high point streak is 12 games, set during the 2011-12 season
  • The Islanders have scored at least two goals in every game this season; the only other teams to do so are the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks
  • The Islanders rank no. 2 in the NHL in power play percentage at 25.6%

Projected Lineup:

26 Vanek – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo
96 Bouchard – 51 Nielsen – 12 Bailey
40 Grabner – 16 Regin – 15 Clutterbuck
29 Nelson – 53 Cizikas – 17 Martin

47 MacDonald – 3 Hamonic
14 Hickey – 7 Carkner
46 Donovan – 4 Martinek

20 Nabokov
60 Poulin

Scratches: 36 Boulton, 13 McDonald, 37 Strait
IR: 11 Visnovsky