The Ottawa Senators showed plenty of moxie late in Saturday's home loss to Boston, but they'll need to be ready less than 24 hours later against a New York Islanders squad likely smarting from the last meeting between the clubs.
Ottawa pounded the Isles 6-0 last week, although that outing came with Kevin Poulin in net for New York. Poulin was no better than fourth on the Long Island club's depth chart when the season started.
The Senators could be facing Evgeni Nabokov? It is phrased as a question because Nabokov has become a hot commodity in a goalie-thin trade market ahead of Monday's transaction deadline.
Ottawa was suddenly thrust into the speculation after netminder Craig Anderson's kitchen injury to his pinky finger, which will put him out an uncertain number of weeks.
As a result, the club is no longer on a certain playoff course. The Sens could conceivably finish anywhere from sixth to 11th in the East.
Career backup Alex Auld got the call in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Bruins, allowing four goals on 37 shots. The final goal came into an empty net.
"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."
Robin Lehner was called up from the American Hockey League after Anderson's injury, but the promising young Swedish goalie hasn't had the best of seasons with Binghamton.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson scored twice, Jason Spezza had three assists and Erik Karlsson notched a goal and two assists for the Senators against Boston.
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 against the Isles.
Chris Neil will undoubtedly inspire a lot of viral video buzz after taking on former teammate Zdeno Chara, the six-foot-nine defenceman.
The Sens and Bruins will meet again Tuesday night in Boston.
The Islanders (26-27-8) surrendered two goals in the opening 95 seconds Monday en route to their ninth shutout loss of the season last week to Ottawa. (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," defenceman 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 Islanders got back on track at home Friday, beating the conference-leading New York 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.
For the record, 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.
With files from The Associated Press