New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators on Nov. 4, 2010

The Ottawa Senators are again withing striking distance of a .500 record, and a have a good opportunity to reach it against an Islanders team that is plummeting down the standings.

New York Islanders at Ottawa Senators on Nov. 4, 2010
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout 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 Ottawa Senators are again withing striking distance of a .500 record, and a have a good opportunity to reach it against an Islanders team that is plummeting down the standings. As was the case against the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes last week and Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday, this is a game the Senators need to win to make up the ground they lost during a slow October start.

THE SUBPLOTS: A goalie debate could quickly creep back into the capital if Brian Elliott doesn’t continue his strong play Thursday night. Pascal Leclaire, who was anointed as the No. 1 netminder in the preseason and had a decent start before suffering a groin injury, is fully healed and ready to go. He’s probably itching to get back in there ASAP, though odds are Elliott will stay hot for the time being. The guy knows how to string wins together.

THE WILDCARDS: Nick Foligno and Peter Regin. The Senators’ young guns have been firing blanks this season, posting no goals and just seven assists between them. Foligno has already gotten a talking to from the general manager and Regin’s due for one as well. The secondary scorers must produce if the Senators are to continue climbing the standings.

THE OPPONENT: After starting the season 4-3, the Islanders have dropped five straight games to fall to a more appropriate spot in the Eastern Conference (12th), a run that includes a 7-2 whipping at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes last night. That said, this club has a batch of good, young forwards and a goaltender known for stealing a game or two in his day (Dwayne Roloson). The Senators should be wary.

THE QUOTE: “We’re going to say who’s going to start (today), but there’s no reason to change things right now. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Brian has played well. He has given our guys an opportunity to get our feet back underneath us when we have struggled at times. Whether it’s the third period or off the start, he has been there for us and he has been a real big part of how we’ve started to turn things around.” — Senators coach Cory Clouston, hinting at his starter for Thursday.

THE PREDICTION: Considering the Islanders have lost five games in a row and were torched by the Hurricanes Wednesday night, the Senators had better win this one at home. Doing so would give them plenty of momentum heading into Montreal Saturday night after dropping the first two contests against the Habs this season. Senators 4, Islanders 3. Click here to see who the rest of our prediction panel likes in this one.

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