(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders will try to continue their winning ways when they begin December by hosting the Ottawa Senators in Tuesday's battle at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders enter today tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division and New York's current standing is due in large part to an 11-2-0 record over the last 13 games, a stretch that included a sweep of the Penguins in a recent home-and-home series.
New York is opening its third home-and-home set in less than two weeks tonight, as the club also is scheduled to visit the Senators on Thursday. After sweeping the Pens on Nov. 21-22, the Islanders split a home-and-home with Washington last week, losing the road portion on Friday after taking Wednesday's encounter with the Capitals on Long Island.
The Isles were able to bounce back from the loss in D.C. when they downed the visiting New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Saturday. Jaroslav Halak posted 34 saves to anchor New York in the divisional victory.
The Devils outshot New Jersey 35-28 in the game and held a wide 16-2 advantage in the third period.
"Our goalie was excellent," said Isles head coach Jack Capuano. "He played extremely well. They made a push in the second half of the game and in the third ... We were fortunate tonight."
On Monday, Halak was named the NHL's First Star for the week ending Sunday, Nov. 30. He went 3-0 with a .95 goals against average last week while pushing his personal winning streak to a career-best nine games.
Halak, who hasn't lost since Nov. 1 in San Jose, will get a chance to tie the Islanders' record for consecutive wins by a goaltender tonight. Billy Smith boasted a 10-0 stretch for New York from Jan. 23-Feb. 25, 1982.
In 10 career games against the Senators, Halak is 3-5-2 with a 2.87 GAA.
Casey Cizikas had a goal and an assist in Sunday's win, while Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin each scored for the Islanders.
Ottawa hopes to put a positive ending on what has a been rough road trip when it takes the Coliseum ice. The Sens are 1-3-0 on the trek and suffered consecutive defeats in the state of Florida over the weekend.
In addition to the recent swoon, Ottawa also lost sniping forward Bobby Ryan to a broken finger in Friday's loss to the Panthers. The winger missed Saturday's test in Tampa and there is no timetable for his return. Ryan has five goals and eight assists in 21 games this season.
The Panthers notched a 3-2 win over the Sens on Friday and Ottawa dropped a 4-1 decision the following night against the Lightning.
Former Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop made 26 saves to help Tampa Bay subdue the visitors and Alex Killorn tallied the eventual game-winner 1:16 into the third period.
David Legwand scored Ottawa's lone goal and Robin Lehner made 28 saves on 32 shots against. The Senators have lost four of their last five and fell to 5-7-1 as the guest this season.
"Against good teams, you need a full 60 minutes," said Lehner.
Craig Anderson will be between the pipes for Ottawa tonight. He is 6-5-2 with a 2.51 GAA in his career against the Isles.
Tuesday's clash is the first of three scheduled meetings between the Islanders and Sens this season. After this week's home-and-home the clubs will meet one more time at the Coliseum on March 13.
Ottawa has claimed six of the last nine encounters, but New York has posted three wins in the last five. The Isles have lost two straight and four of their past five home tilts in this series.
Defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky are expected to miss tonight's game for the Islanders with upper body injuries.