Game Preview: Ottawa Senators @ NY Islanders

The Isles have won both matchups against the Senators in 2023-24.

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Isles vs. Senators. . 12:30 PM EST. 27-33-4. 91. MSGN, TSN5. March 16, 2024. 29-22-14. 106

The NY Islanders (29-22-14, 72 points) will continue their 3-game tour of New York as they return home to take on the Ottawa Senators (27-33-4, 58 points) at UBS Arena.

LAST GAME

The Islanders visited their Upstate counterpart Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Thursday. After being shutout 3-0 by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, the Islanders were in search of some offense. However, they proceeded to only record 5 shots on goal in the first period with none of them coming from top-six forwards. Ilya Sorokin was tremendous early on, saving all 13 Sabres shots on goal.

Despite a great showing from Sorokin, the Sabres opened the floodgates in the second period. Following an Anders Lee interference penalty against Zemgus Girgensons, Victor Oloffson scored on the powerplay. The Sabres kept up the momentum 4 minutes later as Dylan Cozens and Zach Benson scored within 2 minutes of each other to make the game 3-0. Patrick Roy tried to revive the Isles' spirits and challenged the Benson goal for goaltender interference, but it was turned down by the NHL.

After being outshot 29-11 in the first two frames, the Isles finally showed life in the third period outshooting the Sabres 10-8. However, every time the team garnered momentum on the powerplay, mistakes of their own making proved costly. After Benson was penalized for tripping Mathew Barzal, Lee took a double minor for roughing against Colin Clifton. Despite playing 4-on-4 hockey, Roy pulled Sorokin with 8 minutes left for an extra attacker. This decision also proved costly as the Sabres responded with an empty-net goal from Benson, which sealed their victory 4-0.

The last game for the Senators was at Nationwide Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. Boone Jenner scored right off the opening faceoff on an assist from Johnny Gaurdreau. The Senators fought hard to make a comeback, but the game remained 1-0 through the first 2 periods despite outshooting the Blue Jackets 26-18. Alexander Nylander scored early in the third period on the powerplay following a hooking penalty against Brady Tkachuk. However, the Sentors finally figured out Elvis Merzlikins just 2 minutes later as Clude Giroux and Tim Stutzle tied the game 2-2. Given the dominant goaltending performances of Anton Forsberg and Merzlikins, this matchup was decided in a shooutout where Giroux won it for the Senators 3-2.

HISTORICAL MATCHUP

The Islanders have been successful in both meetings with the Senators this season. The first matchup came on October 26th at UBS Arena. Bo Horvat and Cal Clutterbuck gave the Isles an early 2-0 lead. However, the second period was a frame of errors as the team took 7 penalties. This allowed Giroux and Jakob Chychrun to tie the game 2-2. Despite the lack of discipline, Noah Dobson scored in the third period to win the game 3-2.

The second matchup came on November 24th at Canadian Tire Centre. Drake Batherson scored on the powerplay midway through the first period following a tripping penalty on Ryan Pulock. Kyle Palmieri answered with a goal just 3:30 later. The second period is when the game broke open as Oliver Wahlstrom, Mathew Barzal, and Lee all scored within 3 minutes of each other. However, the Senators kept pace as Stutzle and Batherson responded with goals to make the game 4-3. The matchup remained close until Simon Holmstrom netted one past Forsberg to win the game 5-3.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

The Islanders have been shutout in back-to-back games for the first time this season. The top line had just 9 shots on goal, 6 of them coming from Brock Nelson. Roy has saught to hold players accountable in both games. He pulled Barzal from the top penalty unit against the Kings and had Holmstrom serve minor penalties twice against the Sabres. To make these shutouts more frustrating, Sorokin has made Vezina Trophy worthy stops in both games, saving 56 of 61 shot attempts. As Butch Goring said on Thursday, the fourth line should not be leading the way in offensive momentum.

The Senators welcomed back Franklin Square-native Shane Pinto from a 41 game suspension on January 21st. He has 6 goals and 12 assists since returning to action. Given his Long Island roots, many Islanders fans have Pinto on their offseason radar. Stutzle and Giroux lead the team in points with 60 and 55. Despite trading Vladamir Tarasenko to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline, the Senators have won 2 straight after losing 7 in a row. Joonas Korpisalo and Forsberg have each struggled in net this season, combining for a .888 save percentage.

PROJECTED LINES

ISLANDERS

Brock Nelson - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal
Anders Lee - J.G. Pageau - Kyle Palmieri
Pierre Engvall - Casey Cizikas - Simon Holmstrom
Matt Martin - Kyle MacLean - Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech - Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov - Ryan Pulock
Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho

Semyon Varlamov
Ilya Sorokin

SENATORS

Brady Tkachuk - Shane Pinto - Drake Batherson
Mathieu Joseph - Tim Stutzle - Claude Giroux
Ridly Greig - Zack Ostapchuk - Dominik Kubalik
Boris Katchouk - Mark Kastelic - Parker Kelly

Jake Sanderson - Artem Zub
Jakob Chychrun - Max Guenette
Erik Brannstrom - Jacob Bernard-Docker

Joonas Korpisalo
Anton Forsberg