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Senators aiming to avoid Isles sweep

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Mike Comrie will face off against his former teammates for the first time when the New York Islanders visit Scotiabank Place on Saturday night (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Chris Campoli hasn't forgotten how the other half lives.

If there is anyone capable of explaining the seemingly unexplainable – how the Ottawa Senators have managed to go 0-3-0 against the basement-dwelling New York Islanders this season – it’s a guy who has seen this development from both sides.

"They work hard and when they keep things simple over there, they're a tough team to beat," said Campoli, who was dealt from the Islanders to the Senators on Feb. 20. "Anybody, on any given night, can win in this league and we can't take them lightly. Otherwise, they'll come in and beat us ... again."

Campoli had more than a small hand in those three Islander wins back in November, collecting three points, including the game-winning goal in a 3-2 victory Nov. 15 on Long Island.

"We were a team that struggled a lot," he said. "For some reason, with Ottawa ... they were a good team, we knew that and we came to play."

But all of that is in the past now for Campoli and forward Mike Comrie, who were acquired in the trade that sent veteran forward Dean McAmmond to the Isles. They'd like to play a hand in helping the Senators avoid a goose egg at the end of the season against the National Hockey League's worst team. The teams meet one last time on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., CBC, Team 1200).

"Any time you face friends in this game, you always want to compete hard and you want to win," said Comrie. "Everyone has their own situations and I'm happy to be here. I haven't really thought too much about the past with them.

"The way we're playing right now, we're going to worry about ourselves. They work hard but if we stick to our game plan and execute our plays ... we've got a lot of skill over here."

The Senators are 7-1-0 in their last eight games and have run off six straight wins at Scotiabank Place. At 30-30-10, they're at the .500 mark for the first time since early December and have cut the gap between themselves and the eighth-place Carolina Hurricanes to 11 points.

Do some quick math and it's easy to suggest where the Senators could be if those early-season losses to the Isles were reversed. Not that anyone in the Ottawa dressing room would consider spending any amount of time dwelling on it.

""They work hard and when they keep things simple over there, they're a tough team to beat. Anybody, on any given night, can win in this league and we can't take them lightly. Otherwise, they'll come in and beat us. Again." - Chris Campoli
"They caught us in a stretch when we weren't playing well and they were playing pretty well and they got the three (wins) on us," said forward Dany Heatley. "We're not going to look back on it too much, but there's other areas or other stretches – not only against them – where we didn't play well earlier in the year."

Indeed, this isn't the same Senators team the Islanders saw in November. And while they've made gains in the standings with their recent stretch of strong play, head coach Cory Clouston keeps insisting on a singular focus.

"Everyone can read the stats. They know where we're at," he said. "All we're talking about is tomorrow night's opponent and what we have to do to win the game. That's not going to change."

Added forward Chris Kelly: "(The Islanders) have had our number, so we want to finish this series against them on a positive note. We're playing a lot better than we were, so we've got to come out and play a solid 60 minutes."

Around the boards

Comrie (flu) returned to practice this morning and Clouston said there's a good chance he'll return to the lineup against the Isles. "We'll wait and see how he comes out of practice today, but it looks like he should be ready for tomorrow," he said ... Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for Saturday's game, the Senators' last one at Scotiabank Place until April 4, when the Philadelphia Flyers come to the capital.

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