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Isles try to end slide in Ottawa

by John Kreiser

ISLANDERS (4-6-2) at SENATORS (5-6-1)


Last 10 -- New York 3-6-1; Senators 5-4-1

Season series -- It's the first of four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals. Ottawa won the first three last season, including both games at Scotiabank Place, before the Isles salvaged the finale by winning 4-1 at home on April 3.

Big story -- Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. The Isles have lost five in a row after going 4-1-2 in their first seven games, while the Senators have put the wheels back on after a slow start that saw them go 1-4-1 in their first six games. The Islanders have been outscored 13-3 in their last two games, including a 7-2 loss at Carolina on Wednesday night in which they were outplayed in every aspect of the game.

Team Scope:

Islanders -- Don't be surprised if there are some shakeups in the Isles' lineup or allocation of playing time. Coach Scott Gordon was very displeased with his team after a poor effort in the loss at Carolina -- a game in which New York allowed seven goals to a team that had been shut out in each of its first two home games.

"Our play around the puck was horrendous," said Gordon, who was furious about his team's lack of backchecking -- the same problem that cost the Isles the deciding goal in Friday's 3-1 loss to Montreal. "We're leaving too many things to chance."

"We'll address it by playing time," Gordon added when asked how he would remedy the situation.

Expect Dwayne Roloson to start after Rick DiPietro allowed all 13 goals in losses to Philadelphia and Carolina.

Senators -- The Senators signed Sergei Gonchar during the offseason to help run the power play and serve as a mentor for up-and-coming youngster Erik Karlsson. On Tuesday night, the twosome had its best night, with each scoring a power-play goal and setting up one for his partner as Ottawa won 3-2 at Toronto.

"We needed them to contribute," coach Cory Clouston said Wednesday. "They're not always going to score every night but the best-case scenario is if you're struggling a little bit up front, your defense chips in offensively and vice versa. You can't always rely on certain areas (like that) to score but you need it at certain times and last night, it helped us get the win."

Who's hot -- No one on the Islanders has done much in the last three games -- New York has scored just four times after averaging 3.2 goals in its first nine games. … Karlsson has 2 goals in his last four games after scoring just 5 in 60 games last season.

Injury report -- The Isles are missing three of their top six defensemen -- Mark Streit (shoulder surgery), Andrew MacDonald (broken hand) and Milan Jurcina (hamstring). None is due back before next week's trip to California. They did get forwards Rob Schremp (back) and Michael Grabner (groin) back on Tuesday; Grabner scored one of the Islanders' two goals. … Ottawa hopes to get defenseman Filip Kuba (broken leg) into the lineup for the first time this season on Saturday at Montreal. Goalie Pascal Leclaire (groin) returned on Tuesday as Brian Elliott's backup.

Stat pack -- Ottawa is 40-15-11-1 all-time against the Islanders, its best record against any team since entering the NHL in 1992. … The Islanders have scored just four times in their last three games after averaging 3.2 goals in their first nine.

Puck drop -- This is a key stretch for the Islanders, who are in the midst of playing 12 in 15 on the road and have been thoroughly beaten by the Flyers and Hurricanes. They are going to a building where they've never fared well and after a rematch at home on Saturday against the Flyers, -- who've won 15 of the last 16 meetings with the Isles -- they face a three-game California trip next week. If there's such a thing as a must-win game in early November, this might be it.

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