Islanders-Senators Preview

The Associated Press

The New York Islanders were embarrassed at home by the Ottawa Senators earlier this week. They're hoping to come out with a more inspired effort as they kick off a crucial four-game road swing.

New York tries to inch closer to getting back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture and avenge one of its most lopsided defeats of the season Sunday against Ottawa.

The Islanders (26-27-8) surrendered two goals in the opening 95 seconds Monday en route to their ninth shutout loss of the season, 6-0 to the Senators (32-23-8). New York, however, has gone 4-2-2 over its last eight visits to Scotiabank Place.

"We've had success in Ottawa," defenseman Travis Hamonic told the Islanders' official website. "We didn't come out the way we wanted to last time we played Ottawa, but we are going to be ready."

The Senators must be ready for a quick turnaround, playing this late afternoon affair less than 24 hours after their four-game winning streak ended in a 5-3 home loss to Boston. With No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson (right hand injury) out indefinitely, Alex Auld turned away 33 of 37 shots in his first action in more than two weeks.

"I felt good, but it wasn't enough. I think it's a good step. I think obviously I can just worry about myself and the way I play and the way I prepare," said Auld, who dropped to 2-3-2 with a 3.86 goals-against average in eight starts this season.

"I felt good in the game and it was nice to see a lot of shots, it's probably the most I've had all year, but you also play to win and you want to win games against teams you're chasing."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored twice, Jason Spezza had three assists and Erik Karlsson notched a goal and two assists for the Senators, who are seventh in the East but only five points behind the Bruins for the Northeast Division lead and the second seed.

Spezza has seven goals and 12 assists over an eight-game point streak while Karlsson has six goals and nine assists in his last six contests. The duo combined for four goals and two assists Monday.

The Islanders lost 2-1 at Buffalo on Tuesday but got back on track at home Friday, beating the conference-leading Rangers 4-3 in a shootout. P.A. Parenteau scored twice while Matt Moulson, John Tavares and Andrew MacDonald combined for a goal and five assists.

"We have a good feeling and a lot of confidence," captain Mark Streit said. "We had a rough beginning of the week with those two losses. It was great and really important to bounce back ... I think this is the biggest road trip of the year with a lot of key games. We have to do it now, every game."

The Islanders open their trip eight points behind Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov returned from a four-game absence due to the flu to make 33 saves in Friday's win. He's 5-1-0 with two shutouts and a 0.98 GAA over his last six road starts.

Nabokov is also 3-0-0 with a shutout and a 0.97 GAA in his last three meetings with the Senators, including a 2-1 overtime win Feb. 3 at Ottawa.

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