But Ottawa has only two losses since that point, and it will look to bounce back from one of them and head into the Olympic break atop the Northeast Division as it visits the stumbling Islanders.
The Senators (35-23-4) lost their fifth straight game on Jan. 12, the same night the Islanders routed Detroit 6-0 to pull even with Ottawa at 48 points.
But with several key players returning from injury, including Jason Spezza(notes) and Daniel Alfredsson(notes), Ottawa responded with a franchise-best 11-game winning streak. The Senators had won 13 of 14 before Saturday night’s 4-1 road loss to the Red Wings.
Buffalo regained the division lead on Saturday, dropping Ottawa to fifth in the Eastern Conference, but the Sabres don’t play again before the break, meaning the Senators would jump back atop the division with a victory Sunday.
Ottawa, which gave up a total of 13 goals during its winning streak, would also like to tighten its defense after allowing 16 goals in the last four games. Detroit went 2 for 4 on the power play Saturday, and Senators coach Cory Clouston said the Red Wings looked like the hungrier team.
“It appeared that way,” Clouston said, “but again, when you give them two power play goals where you basically put it right on their stick instead of icing the puck, that’s the difference in the game.”
It was a less-than-perfect Senators debut for center Matt Cullen(notes), who was acquired from Carolina in a trade Friday. Cullen was in the penalty box for the first of Detroit’s power-play goals, had one shot on goal and was a minus-1.
Cullen had two goals and an assist in four games versus New York this season while with the Hurricanes.
Things haven’t been going as well for the Islanders, who had dropped eight of nine before Saturday’s 5-4 win over Tampa Bay. Richard Park’s(notes) second goal of the game with 2:22 to play in regulation was the game-winner.
New York (25-28-8) has slipped six points out of eighth place in the East as it tries to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
“We’re obviously trying to stay real positive and upbeat,” Park said. “Everyone knows we haven’t been getting the results we’ve wanted, but we’ve kept at it.”
Martin Biron(notes) made 38 saves to earn his second straight victory since a lengthy layoff. With Dwayne Roloson(notes) also on the roster, Biron became New York’s third goalie when Rick DiPietro(notes) returned from injury in early January, and had not played since Dec. 27 before Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout win over Nashville.
The wins may have been his last with the Islanders, and they could have been auditions with rumors swirling that he’s on the trading block after the Olympic roster freeze.
“Whatever teams are out there, not that they didn’t know I could come through and win some big games, but maybe that is going to help out a little bit more,” Biron said.
DiPietro has been dealing with the flu, and Roloson is likely to start Sunday. He has lost four straight starts overall and his last three against Ottawa, but he is 11-4-2 with a 2.68 goals-against average at Nassau Coliseum.
The Senators have won both meetings with New York this season by 3-2 scores at home, with one coming in overtime and the other in a shootout, but they lost both trips to Long Island in 2008-09.