Following consecutive losses to sub-.500 teams, the NY Islanders are looking to get back on track as they host the Ottawa Senators at UBS Arena.
After failing to hang on to a two-goal lead against the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, the Isles had an opportunity to wash away the bad taste against the Montreal Canadiens but failed to do so. Thanks to goals from Brock Nelson, Bo Horvat, and Matt Martin, New York had a lead in the third period twice but could not keep it either time as the Habs got third-period goals from Justin Barron and Kirby Dach, sending the game into overtime tied at three. In the extra session, the Islanders would get a man advantage but failed to capitalize as Mike Matheson netted the game-winner with just 22 ticks to go. Goalie Semyon Varlamov got the loss after making 27 saves on 31 shots.
The OSenators, just like the Isles, currently find themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. That hasn't stopped them from trying to make a push, as they have now won five of their last six games to get over .500 following a come-from-behind win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Calgary led 3-1 with less than three minutes to go in the game but the Sens rallied to tie it with two goals in a minute via Drake Batherson's 16th goal of the season and Alex DeBrincat's 18th. Ottawa would then go on to win it in overtime as Tim Stutzle got the game-winner.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Islanders and Senators this season, as the two teams split the first two meetings. On November 14th, the Isles traveled north of the border and picked up a 4-2 win. Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, JG Pageau, and Nelson each found the back of the net in that game. In the second matchup, the Sens got their revenge, beating the Isles 2-1 on January 25th in a game that was also played up in Ottawa.
All time, the Islanders are 38-51-11-4 against the Senators. The two teams also have met once in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Ottawa won four games to one in the first round in 2003.
Players to Watch
It's been the newest Islander who has done his job while wearing the blue and orange so far. Bo Horvat has three goals in his first four games since being acquired from the Canucks during the All-Star break. Playing on a line with Mathew Barzal has really allowed Horvat to thrive and I expect that to continue in this game against the Senators.
In each of the first two meetings this season, Claude Giroux has had two points (1 goal and 1 assist in both). Giroux has had plenty of experience against the Isles after all those years he spent with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 35-year-old has 72 points in 66 career games against New York so it's safe to Lane Lambert's defense will make containing Giroux a huge point of emphasis.