OTTAWA (AP) – Strong offensive performances have sparked the Ottawa Senators to four wins in their last six games. A meeting with the foundering New York Islanders isn’t likely to slow them down yet.
The Senators look to continue their dominance of the Islanders when they open their season series Thursday night at Scotiabank Place.
Ottawa (5-6-1) is in the midst of a strong run after opening the season with a 1-4-1 record. The current success has been keyed with 17 goals in the victories, while both defeats have come via shutouts.
The Senators turned in another solid offensive showing Tuesday, scoring the first three goals en route to a 3-2 win at Toronto. Defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson scored from the point with the man advantage.
Gonchar and Karlsson have combined for three goals during Ottawa’s 6-for-20 success rate on the power play over the last six games. The Senators had gone 2 for 24 in the first six.
Daniel Alfredsson, the team leader with six goals and 13 points, feels Gonchar and Karlsson’s ability to score on slapshots from the point are important components of the power play.
“Having that threat from the back end is important to have a good power play, because that’s going to open things up down low,” he told the team’s official website.
Pascal Leclaire may be back from a groin injury that has sidelined him for eight games. He was 0-2-1 with a 3.24 goals-against average in four games before getting hurt in the opening 2:06 of Ottawa’s 3-2 win over Carolina on Oct. 14.
Leclaire, who was Brian Elliott’s backup Tuesday, struggled with injuries last season, and went 12-14-2 with a 3.20 GAA. However, he’s won all three of his meetings with the Islanders while posting a 2.20 GAA.
If Leclaire is unable to play, Elliott would get the nod. He has a 2.67 GAA while starting the last six games.
The Senators may find themselves in a favorable position against New York (4-6-2), which has dropped five in a row and has been outscored 16-4 in the last three.
Ottawa is also 14-5-1 against the Islanders over the last five seasons, including 8-2-0 at home.
New York’s woeful stretch, which followed a promising 4-1-2 start, is its longest slide since dropping seven in a row from Jan. 23-Feb. 6. The Islanders fell 7-2 at Carolina on Wednesday following a 6-1 defeat at Philadelphia on Saturday.
“Well, (Tuesday was) obviously pretty ugly,” coach Scott Gordon told the team’s official website. “Our play away from the puck was horrendous. Our play in the defensive zone isn’t even about awareness right now. We’re going in to the defensive zone with no purpose.
“It’s something we have to get better at quickly because it’s costing us games.”
It’s unclear if Gordon will use Rick DiPietro or Dwayne Roloson in net.
DiPietro has lost his last three starts with a 5.70 GAA, including Wednesday’s defeat which saw him give up all seven goals on 32 shots. Roloson hasn’t been much better, losing his last two games with a 3.56 GAA.
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