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Senators remain wary of struggling Islanders

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Jesse Winchester and the Senators aren't paying too much attention to the New York Islanders' current five-game losing streak heading into their matchup tonight (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images).

Check out the NHL game notes for tonight's Ottawa-New York Islanders matchup.

A wounded bear is often the most dangerous.

So it is that the Ottawa Senators won't dare get caught looking past the reeling New York Islanders, who visit Scotiabank Place tonight (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). The Isles carrying a five-game losing streak into the matchup and have dropped their last two by a combined 13-3 score, including a 7-2 whipping at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday night in Raleigh, N.C.

None of that matters to the Senators, who are just emerging from some early-season troubles of their own. Ottawa is now 5-6-1 but needed to win four of its last six games to get within one victory of a level record in the standings.

"Every team is dangerous on any given night," Senators forward Jesse Winchester said with an eye toward tonight's opponent. "We've fought through a few of the same troubles and we're starting to get things turned around here. We've got to focus on our game and go out there and put together a solid 60 minutes because we know they're going to be pretty feisty."

Senators head coach Cory Clouston is also aware that, before their recent skid, the Isles got off to a strong 4-1-2 start this season. It's a rather youthful aggregation with some offensive firepower featuring John Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

"We know from experience that sometimes that’s when you’re the hungriest, when you come off a tough loss," Clouston said following the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today. "You know they’re going to come out hungry and come out with some energy. They want to redeem themselves. And they’ve got some good young players. They skate well, they pressure you hard.

"(Wednesday) night wasn't an indication of their team. I think they’re a better team than that. They’ve won some games this year, so they’re a good team. They’re a dangerous team when they get on a roll. When they get some momentum, they’ve had some real good games."

The Senators, meanwhile, want to keep the good times rolling. A victory tonight would be their fourth in the last five games, giving Ottawa some nice momentum to start November.

"You would like to win every game," said captain Daniel Alfredsson. "But it's about going out there and giving yourself a chance to win and we've been doing that, which is a good sign. The toughest thing in this league is, when you've got momentum, trying to keep it going and that's going to be our challenge."

Added centre Jason Spezza: "We don't watch the standings at this point in the season, but we do judge (ourselves) by how we're playing and you want to be playing good hockey. We're heading in the right direction and to get a few wins in a row here would be nice."

Around the boards

Filip Kuba admits he's starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While the veteran Senators blueliner, who's been sidelined since breaking his right leg on the opening day of training camp in September, isn't ready to pick a return date, he knows it's getting closer. "I feel better on the ice every day (when I'm) skating," said Kuba. "I'm just trying to get up to a level that I feel comfortable playing. It's not there right now ... The ankle is still a little weak and we're working on that." Clouston remains hopeful that Kuba might be available Saturday against the Canadiens in Montreal (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) ... Centre Mike Fisher didn't participate in the morning skate but Clouston said it was for "maintenance" reasons. "He got banged up the last game," he said. "He'll be fine (for tonight)" ... Brian Elliott gets the start in goal against the Isles ... Forward Nick Foligno suits up for his 200th career National Hockey League game this evening.

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