In their latest bid to shake their slump and end what is now a four-game winless streak, the New York Islanders will keep the same forward lines but have a new look in net and welcome rookie Ryan Pulock back to the lineup.
The Sens are basically out of the playoffs, but still within theoretical shouting distance at seven points behind the last wild card spot with eight games to go. The Isles have 11 games left and will hope to use those to recover the three-point gap behind the Penguins and the five-point gap behind the Rangers for a home ice slot in the Metropolitan Division playoffs.
Islanders (38-24-9, 4th/Metro) @ Senators (34-32-8, 5th/Atlantic)
7 p.m. EDT | MSG+
Brooklyn's [ingloriously sponsored] Center
Under the Microscope: Silver Seven
The Islanders will start Jean-Francois Berube in goal for his fourth start of the season and second since moving up the depth chart after Jaroslav Halak's injury. Fitting that the third goalie on their roster gets a start on the day they add yet another name to the crowd in Bridgeport, with Eamon McAdam leaving Penn State to sign an ELC and an AHL ATO for the rest of this season..
That means Berube is likely to see two games this week, with the Islanders having a road back-to-back in Tampa and Raleigh on Friday and Saturday.
Pulock is also back in the lineup, replacing some guy who brings a "heavy" game. The latest mix of the offensively struggled forward lines is expected to remain the same:
Josh Bailey – John Tavares – Ryan Strome
Nikolay Kulemin – Frans Nielsen – Kyle Okposo
Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Anders Lee
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
One other footnote: It's the first time Prince faces his former team (and coach), which arguably didn't use him in an optimal way. Media asked him a bit about his former team but couldn't scrounge up any dirt.
Logging between 11-13 minutes per game, the 23-year-old has just one goal in his 10 games thus far for the Islanders, though the entire team has been having trouble conjuring goals.
The Senators are a little different since the last time the Isles saw them, a big 5-2 comeback win in Ottawa on Jan. 22. Namely, Dion Phaneuf and Scott Gomez are on the roster, though Phaneuf is expected to miss this game with an injury.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here. Game time is 7 p.m. EDT.
P.S. Happy Puppy Day