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Grabner leads Isles into Ottawa

by Brian Compton
ISLANDERS (20-29-7) at SENATORS (18-30-8)


Last 10: New York 5-5-0; Ottawa 1-7-2.

Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams. The Islanders avenged two losses earlier this season when they beat the Sens 5-3 on Feb. 5 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Rob Schremp scored twice for New York.

Big Story: Isles forward Michael Grabner continues to make his case as Garth Snow's best find. The speedy winger notched a hat trick -- including the game-winner -- on Sunday in a 7-6 overtime victory at Buffalo. Grabner, who has 15 goals in his last 14 games and is tied with Logan Couture for the most NHL goals by a rookie this season, was named the League's First Star of the Week for the week ending Feb. 13.

"Grabner's on fire," teammate PA Parenteau said. "You can't really stop him."

Team Scope:

Islanders: Zenon Konopka, who has emerged as one of the leaders in New York's dressing room, took exception to Mario Lemieux's statement about what transpired on Friday night at the Coliseum when the Isles and Pittsburgh Penguins combined for 346 penalty minutes.

"I was not impressed," Konopka told Newsday. "I think it's tough for someone in his position and what he's meant to the game on and off the ice to not look at it from both sides.
"We've lost over 350 man games and we're doing everything we can to win games and protect our players. I think it's unfair for a statement like that. He played the game and he understood that emotions get high and escalate. No one wanted things to get to that point [Friday] but we've got to take care of our own."

Senators: Ottawa finally ended an 11-game skid on Saturday when it earned a 5-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers. It was only the Sens' second win since Dec. 26.

"It was a big piano off our back, so to speak," forward Nick Foligno told the team's web site Monday. "Just finally getting that one … It's nice to hold off a team and get that (eventual) win. Hopefully, it brings us more confidence and brings us that kind of oomph that we need.

"You look around the practice today and guys are just a little bit lighter. It feels good. Winning is a great feeling to have and coming into the locker-room after that game was a big boost for us."

Who's Hot: Kyle Okposo, who missed the first four months of the season with a shoulder injury, has eight points in 12 games. He had four assists Sunday. … Sens forward Alex Kovalev has five goals in his last six games.
Injury Report: The Islanders, who lead the League in man-games lost (376), will be without Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling), Kevin Poulin (knee), Mark Streit (shoulder), Mike Mottau (hip), Mark Eaton (hip), Doug Weight (back), Trent Hunter (knee) and Jeremy Colliton (rib). Jack Hillen is also questionable after missing Sunday's game with concussion symptoms. The Isles will also be without forwards Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies, who are serving suspensions for their roles in last Friday's game against Pittsburgh. … For Ottawa, captain Daniel Alfredsson (back), Jesse Winchester (knee), Pascal Leclaire (lower body) and Matt Carkner (lower body) are all out indefinitely.

Stat Pack: Al Montoya, who replaced Mikko Koskinen at the start of the third period and got the win Sunday, became the sixth goaltender used by the Islanders this season, a franchise record. … Sens goalie Brian Elliott ended a personal 13-game losing streak on Saturday.

Puck Drop: "You have to be a complete player to play in the National Hockey League. You have to be able to play in all three zones, with and without the puck. What kind of decision you have and your discipline when you have the puck. He's doing those things and when you do those things they lead to opportunities on the other end." -- Isles interim coach Jack Capuano on Michael Grabner
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