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ISLANDERS (16-18-7) at SENATORS (20-16-4)
Last 10 -- New York 5-5-0; Ottawa 5-5-0
Season series -- These teams haven't seen each other since Oct. 8, when the Islanders overcame a 2-0 deficit but lost 3-2 in overtime at Scotiabank Place on a goal by Mike Fisher. The Senators come to Nassau Coliseum for games on Feb. 14 and April 3.Big story -- The Senators are facing a major challenge as they try to hold on to a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference -- they're playing without their two biggest guns, Jason Spezza (knee surgery) and Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder). Neither is likely to return until after the Olympics. The Islanders are trying to put the wheels back on after struggling through much of December; they've won three of their last four, though they were dominated for most of the game in Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win over Columbus.
Islanders -- After a slow start this season, 40-year-old Dwayne Roloson has established himself as the Isles' No. 1 goaltender. He's 14-7-5 with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage, and was the hero in the Isles' win over Columbus with 41 saves through 65 minutes and three more in the shootout.
With backup Martin Biron struggling, the Islanders need Roloson to bring his "A" game every night. He's done it more often than not.
"I don't think Rollie has had too many off-nights," coach Scott Gordon said after Tuesday night's win. "Since the first month (of the season), he's elevated his game. He played well and gave us a chance to win the game."
Senators -- Ottawa is spending New Year's Eve at Scotiabank Place after losing 4-3 to Colorado at home on Wednesday -- despite outshooting the Avalanche 30-20. Pascal Leclaire stopped just 16 of 20 shots and allowed a couple of soft goals.
Coach Cory Clouston preferred to dwell on the good things his team did in the loss.
''All our guys played well, you can't really fault too many guys,'' Clouston said. ''We generated 30 shots, we gave up 20. There's not much more you can do.''
Who's hot -- Isles forward Kyle Okposo has 4 points in his team's last three games -- big numbers on a team that's struggled badly in the attacking zone. … Ottawa forward Randy Shannon had a pair of goals on Wednesday and has 4 in three games.
Injury report -- Isles forward Nate Thompson will miss a week or two with a shoulder injury. Goalie Rick DiPietro, who hasn't played in nearly a year as he recovers from knee surgery, could play an AHL game this week end. Captain Doug Weight is still out with an upper-body injury. … Ottawa forward Nick Foligno returned Wednesday and had a goal after missing seven games with a knee injury.
Stat pack -- The Senators have dominated the Islanders throughout their history. Ottawa is 38-15-1 with 11 ties against the Isles since entering the NHL in 1992. New York was 3-1-0 against the Senators last season, the first time it had beaten Ottawa three times in a season.
Puck drop -- The Isles, who haven't scored more than three goals in a game in more than a month, need a return to form by top rookie John Tavares -- he has just 1 goal and 2 points in his last 10 games and has been struggling. Maybe he'll get a boost by returning to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs -- one year ago at this time, he led Team Canada to the World Junior Championship atScotiabank Place..