The Ottawa Senators have a chance to take another step toward the postseason if they can get past a team that had its playoff hopes officially end this weekend.
The Senators will try to earn their fourth straight win Sunday afternoon with another dominant performance against the New York Islanders.
Ottawa (40-28-10) had scored a combined 14 goals over two games breaking out of a losing streak and took a 3-0 lead after one period in Philadelphia on Saturday. The Senators, though, blew that advantage over the next 17:17 before recording a 4-3 shootout victory.
Jason Spezza had the winning shot in the extra session and scored the game's opening goal for his third in four games.
"We never give up. That's kind of the mantra we have in the room," said captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose team was coming off a four-day break. "We put ourselves in tough positions sometimes but more often than not, we come up with a big play at the right time. We never stop believing."
With Spezza's help, Ottawa will also try to maintain its faint hopes for a division title. The Senators trail Boston by six points in the Northeast with four games left for both clubs.
Duplicating their most recent performance at the Nassau Coliseum might help their cause. Ottawa needs a win over the Islanders (33-34-11) and a Bruins loss at the New York Rangers to remain in contention.
The Senators are seeking a third straight win against the Islanders, a team they routed 6-0 in Long Island on Feb. 20. Defenseman Erik Karlsson had a season-high four points during that game (two goals, two assists) and another two assists during a 5-2 home victory six days later.
This time, Ottawa will face an Islanders club that's won five of its last seven but denied a season-high fourth straight win Saturday with a 6-3 home loss to Boston.
The Islanders gave up four goals in the third period of that game and extended their playoff drought to five years. P.A. Parenteau had two goals in the losing effort and Kyle Okposo had one in his fifth straight game.
"Obviously we wanted a better outcome, but we stuck in there the whole time and played hard," forward Matt Martin told the team's website. "Tomorrow, if we come out the same way, I think we'll be okay."
With Evgeni Nabokov dealing with a lower-body injury, the Islanders could choose to stick with Al Montoya or give John Grahame his first start since Feb. 18, 2008. Montoya matched his career high for goals allowed in Saturday's loss.
Grahame, though, hasn't fared well in his most recent games against the Senators, going 0-6-0 with a 3.69 goals-against average. Montoya made his only appearance versus Ottawa in February when he gave up four goals on 27 shots in relief of Kevin Poulin.
Spezza scored two goals in that game and has 11 goals and 16 assists over the last 21 matchups. Okposo hasn't scored a goal against the Senators since Oct. 8, 2009, a span of eight matchups.
Craig Anderson might get the chance to help continue that drought. The Senators goaltender snapped a four-game skid to the Islanders during his previous visit to Nassau, making 28 saves during one of his three shutouts this season.
- Jason Spezza