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At the rink: Senators at Islanders

by David Satriano

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Islanders enter play Friday with 90 points and can leapfrog the idle New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a win in regulation against the Ottawa Senators at Nassau Coliseum.

A win would put the Islanders in first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens. A win and a loss by the Anaheim Ducks on Friday would put the Islanders in first place in the League, a fact not lost on Senators coach Dave Cameron.

"They have a chance to be first overall tonight with a win," Cameron said. "That says it all."

New York is 23-10-0 at Nassau Coliseum after losing two straight games; they haven't lost three consecutive games at home all season. The Senators are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games and chasing the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Ottawa is seven points behind the Boston with one game in hand.

"We are playing against a good team tonight," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We have to be ready. They have a lot to play for and they've been playing some great hockey. Their goaltenders have been real good. This will be a good test."

Senators goalie Andrew Hammond made 27 saves in a 5-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. He is 8-0-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage and will start. Craig Anderson started Tuesday and allowed three goals in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins.

"I would expect them to come hard," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. "They're chasing Boston and know it's not an easy task and they are fighting for their lives, but we have to make sure we are ready to play."

Captain John Tavares said, "A very underrated team. They do a lot of good things. They have gotten some great goaltending. Just because they played [Thursday], I'd expect them to be sharp and ready to play and play with confidence.

"For us, we've had a few days to regroup and get some rest, but we have to make sure we are dialed in right from the puck drop."

New York defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who agreed to a seven-year contract with the Islanders on Thursday, said he was excited to stay on Long Island.

"The team that we have," Boychuck said. "We are a good team, a younger team, but I know we are going to be good for a long time, so it was an easy decision."

Here are the projected lineups:

SENATORS

Mike HoffmanMika Zibanejad - Bobby Ryan

Milan Michalek -- Kyle TurrisMark Stone

Erik CondraJean-Gabriel PageauCurtis Lazar

Matt PuempelDavid LegwandAlex Chiasson

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Patrick Wiercioch - Cody Ceci

Jared Cowen - Mark Borowiecki

Andrew Hammond

Craig Anderson

Scratched: Eric Gryba, Colin Greening

Injured: Robin Lehner (concussion), Clarke MacArthur (concussion), Chris Phillips (back), Zack Smith (wrist), Chris Neil (thumb)

ISLANDERS

Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Tyler Kennedy

Michael Grabner - Ryan Strome - Nikolay Kulemin

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Johnny Boychuk - Calvin de Haan

Lubomir Visnovsky - Thomas Hickey

Travis Hamonic - Brian Strait

Jaroslav Halak

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Frans Nielsen, Matt Donovan, Eric Boulton, Colin McDonald

Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Nick Leddy (upper body)

Status report: Leddy will miss at least two weeks; Capuano said after a few more days the Islanders would have a better idea of the extent of the injury and how much time he likely will miss. … Capuano said Nielsen would be back in the lineup shortly but wanted to give him a maintenance day.

Who's hot: Stone has three goals and four assists in his past seven games. ... Lee has a six-game point streak (three goals, three assists). ... Tavares has nine goals and 21 points in his past 14 games.

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