ISLANDERS (30-35-10) at SENATORS (32-29-14)
TV: TSN, MSG PLUS, TVA
Last 10: New York 6-3-1; Ottawa 4-4-2
Season series: This is the second of three games between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators; the Islanders earned a 5-4 shootout victory Nov. 1 at Canadian Tire Centre. The teams will face each other next Tuesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Big story: It's the fourth of a five-game homestand for the Senators, who are five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot in the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ottawa, which has seven games remaining, would have to leapfrog three other teams (New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs) that are also chasing Columbus.
Islanders: Once again, New York had 10 rookies in its lineup Tuesday night, but it once again found a way to win. Mike Halmo scored his first NHL goal, and Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist in a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at the Coliseum.
With the win, the Islanders improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games, their best stretch of the season. Beginning with the game Wednesday in Ottawa, the Islanders will play five of their seven remaining games on the road.
"Guys have done a good job keeping each other up, keeping the spirits up, even though it can be tough," Bailey said. "When you think about last year down the stretch and how much fun it was, it's difficult. We definitely don't want to find ourselves here ever again, but you've still got a job to do."
Senators: Ottawa's a team that has been plagued by inconsistency, except when it comes to the play of its top defenseman. Erik Karlsson is enjoying another spectacular season and is the Senators' leading scorer with 70 points (20 goals, 50 assists) in 75 games -- remarkable numbers for someone who had his Achilles tendon severed during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in February 2013.
It was announced Tuesday that Karlsson was selected as the Senators' nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
"I came back fairly fast and even though I didn't feel great, I still thought that it would go a lot faster than it has," Karlsson told the Ottawa Sun. "I was hoping by the OIympics (in February) I was going to be back to normal.
"It hasn't really felt the same yet. Now, I'm just waiting. I can still skate OK and do everything like that. There's been no pain since I got back, which has been really nice."
Who's hot: Bailey has a goal and three assists in the past four games for New York. … Karlsson has earned at least one point in nine of his past 11 games. He has three goals and 10 assists over that span. Forward Milan Michalek has three goals in his past three games.
Injury report: The Islanders are without forwards John Tavares (knee), Michael Grabner (concussion) and Kyle Okposo (lower body) and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion). … The Senators could be without forwards Jason Spezza (lower body) and Colin Greening (lower body) and defenseman Jared Cowen (lower body). Forward Bobby Ryan (sports hernia) is out for the season.
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