The Ottawa Senators probably needed to get out of town given their recent home woes.
The Senators (17-27-8) have gone 1-10-4 since Spezza hurt his right shoulder against Pittsburgh on Dec. 26, and his absence weighed heavily on their offense.
Ottawa scored more than three goals just twice during its tailspin, once in a 6-4 road victory over the Islanders on Jan. 13 and again in Wednesday’s 7-5 loss to Detroit.
With the Senators in last place in the Northeast Division and 15 points behind Atlanta for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, Spezza is hoping he can provide a spark to shake them out of their funk.
“You can see the effort is there but we’re just not finding ways to win games right now,” he told the Senators’ official website. “So hopefully I can come back and give a little jolt of energy, bring a little positivity to the dressing room and get us off on the right foot.”
Spezza had a goal and three assists in a 4-1 victory over the Islanders on Nov. 4 and has eight goals and 15 assists in 23 lifetime games against New York. He has nine goals and 11 assists in 32 games of an injury-plagued season.
In addition to Spezza’s expected return, the change of venue may also help the Senators, who have an eight-game home losing streak. Coach Cory Clouston incurred the crowd’s wrath Wednesday by pulling Robin Lehner(notes) in the second period after he allowed four goals on 19 shots.
The Islanders (16-28-7) also are scuffling, having lost four of five and getting shut out twice by the Penguins in that span.
New York lost 3-0 to Pittsburgh on Wednesday and had injury added to insult Friday when it learned goaltender Rick DiPietro(notes) will miss at least one month with broken bones in his face after being dropped by Penguins counterpart Brent Johnson(notes) with one punch in the final minute after DiPietro hit forward Matt Cooke(notes) with his blocker.
“It’s a fight. Things happen,” DiPietro said after the fight Wednesday. “He’s got long arms.”
It’s hard to say just how much fight the Islanders - losers of four straight at home - have left in them, as they’ve gone 3-8-1 in their last 12.
Lehner stopped 20 shots in last month’s victory over the Islanders for his only NHL victory as six Senators scored goals. Chris Kelly(notes), Nick Foligno(notes) and Zack Smith(notes) scored in a 3:36 span of the second period for Ottawa, which has won six of seven between the teams.