Surprise. - Al Bello
The Ottawa Senators visit as the Isles kick off a homestand. Still missing several of their best players, Paul MacLean has the Senators still humming along.
In their last meeting, also at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders got by the Ottawa Senators in a shootout. That was 16 days ago and the Senators, still without their best players at key positions, are still hanging tough in fifth place in the East.
With 19 games left in the season, Ottawa is hardly safe and you wonder if their injuries will finally catch up to them. But they're six points and four teams clear of ninth place, and most of the teams below them in the playoff bubble have their share of flaws (and injuries), so that cushion makes their chances of making the postseason look good.
This is the third meeting of the season, and the Islanders have yet to crack the Senators PK, going 0 for 9 powerplay opportunities. (Fun fact: Marty Reasoner is the Islanders' top scorer against Ottawa this year, with two assists. No one else has more than one point against them.)
The Senators have gone to OT or the shootout 10 times, winning four and picking up a regulation point in the other six.
Their even strength possession is middle of the pack, but they they tend to have high-shooting but low-scoring games: They take and concede over 33 shots on goal per game (league highs), yet they're 25th in the league in goals for per game (2.38) and give up a league-best 2.00 goals against per game.
From Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts this week, on tonight's opponent:
25. One scout on Ottawa: "It's amazing how much they look like Detroit, the way they pressure the puck and support it." The Paul MacLean influence, of course.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight in this thread.