New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators on Feb. 15, 2011

The Senators and Islanders meet for the second time this month, and the stakes haven’t changed.

New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators on Feb. 15, 2011
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


THE STORY:
The Senators and Islanders meet for the second time this month, and the stakes haven’t changed. New York leads Ottawa by three points in the standings, with the team that finishes lower getting the best shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft. This might actually turn out to be a pretty competitive game — the Senators are coming off a rare win, and the surging Isles have pumped in goal after goal during a three-game winning streak.

THE SUBPLOTS: The Islanders are getting plenty of attention for their brawl with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this week and drew the ire of Pens owner Mario Lemieux over the weekend. As they’ve shown this season, however, the Isles aren’t about to stand down to anyone. Former Ottawa 67 Zenon Konopka came out firing after practice in Ottawa Monday, taking a few verbal shots at the legendary Lemieux and making no apologies for his team’s pugilistic behaviour. This team certainly has a chip on its shoulder.

THE WILDCARD: Peter Regin, Senators. Every time he scores a goal, Ottawa wonders: Is this it? Is he back? Regin got his third of the season last game against Edmonton, raising hopes that he can put away a few more down the stretch. Players like Regin and Nick Foligno can prevent the Senators’ youth movement from being too embarrassing on the ice by putting up some numbers.

THE OPPONENT: As mentioned, the Isles are riding a three-game win streak. It has materialized on the strength of their offence, which is now ranked 19th in the NHL after a goal explosion this week. They scored four times against Montreal Thursday, won 9-3 in that fight-filled contest against the Pens Friday and added seven more goals in a win over Buffalo Sunday. Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner had better be ready.

THE QUOTE: “I’m getting a chance to play more and for the most part I’ve been with Kovalev. It has been a tough year for everybody, and me, too, and after the break, I just wanted to not think at all about the first half and just refocus on what was left and take it as a new season. I’m trying not to think too much. I’m a smart player and I do try to think the game, but if you do that too much out there, it looks like you’re being passive. You have to play by instinct.” — Young forward Peter Regin on getting a fresh start.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — G Pascal Leclaire (lower body, indefinite), RW Daniel Alfredsson (back, indefinite), C Jesse Winchester (knee, indefinite), D Matt Carkner (lower body, questionable). Islanders — D Jack Hillen (concussion, questionable), RW Blake Comeau (concussion, indefinite), C Jeremy Colliton (ribs, indefinite), G Kevin Poulin (knee, indefinite), RW Trent Hunter (knee, out for season), G Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, mid-March), D Mark Streit (shoulder, indefinite), D Mark Eaton (hip, indefinite), D Mike Mottau (eye, out for season), G Nathan Lawson (knee, out for season), C Doug Weight (back, indefinite).

THE PREDICTION: One win doesn’t guarantee the Senators have the turned a corner, especially considering the depth of their recent slide. Ask me again when they win two or three in a row. Senators 4, Islanders 5…and that would qualify as a low-scoring affair for the Isles right now.

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