The Ottawa Senators haven't played at home since Jan. 9. The New York Islanders haven't played on the road since Jan. 9 -- oops, well technically they didn't "play" anything that day in Philadelphia, so maybe we should go back to a different ugly loss in Pennsylvania, on the 2nd of the month.
Regardless, this is just the Islanders' third (and final) road game of January, but they've at least cashed in their home games for seven out of a possible 10 points thus far. It's not quite good enough -- they remain a point behind the Rangers and just a point ahead of the Devils in the race for runner-up in the Metro -- but they have the opportunity to bank some points with three games over the next four nights.
The best opportunity of the bunch may be tonight in Ottawa, where the Sens are listing with Montreal(!) in a tie for fifth place in the New Atlantic. The Sens have been better at home, where their 11-6-4 record includes that comeback OT win over the Isles, but the visitors are rested while the Sens played on the road last night, and the rest of this pre-All-Star stretch brings tricky travel home and vexing opponents in the Flyers and Red Wings.
The Islanders retain their regular lineup but with one very important return: Travis Hamonic is back from his reported hairline foot fracture, bumping Scott Mayfield back out of the lineup. These were the reported defense pairings:
Hamonic - de Haan
Hickey - Zidlicky
Leddy - Strait
"I'm excited to play (with de Haan) again. He's one of those guys that certainly each and every game he's getting better and better and I think we're starting to see that right now. People are talking about it now, but in our organization, certainly in our locker room, he's someone that we rely on a lot. He plays a lot of tough minutes."
The Isles start Jaroslav Halak, and of course Johnny Boychuk and Adam Pelech remain out.
The Senators will start Andrew Hammond, and be without Kyle Turris and Marc Methot. The Sens' underlying stats all have them near the bottom of the league, but they have that Erik Karlsson guy, who is on pace for 70 assists.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks in this thread by 7:30 p.m.