SENATORS GAMEDAY - NYI AT OTT

 

The Ottawa Senators will be looking to take advantage of a team that suddenly finds itself without its star goaltender tonight. The New York Islanders’ Rick DiPietro left a 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs after the first period last night with a knee injury. Islanders head coach Ted Nolan said this morning DiPietro was being evaluated by doctors and wouldn’t be in the lineup.

 
 
 
The Ottawa Senators will be looking to take advantage of a team that suddenly finds itself without its star goaltender tonight.

The New York Islanders’ Rick DiPietro left a 4-3 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs after the first period last night with a knee injury.

Islanders hoad coach Ted Nolan said this morning DiPietro was being evaluated by doctors and wouldn’t be in the lineup.

The result could get ugly at Scotiabank Place tonight if the high-scoring Senators play up to their potential.

New York backup netminder Wade Dubielewicz has struggled this so far this season, posting a 2-2 record with a 4.04 goals-against average and .868 save percentage.

That doesn’t warm Senators head coach John Paddock’s heart, however. He said the fact Dubielewicz came in at the end of last season when DiPietro got hurt and carried the Isles into the playoffs suggests the diminutive backup can play.

He also characterized the Islanders as somewhat underrated.

“They’re a team that, they continually don’t get viewed upon with a lot of positives a lot of the times, but they keep finding ways to be in hockey games,” Paddock said following the morning skate today. “They lose their goaltender lkast night ater th first period and they still find away to win.

“They did that last year…throughout the stretch run,” he added. “They continue to find ways and it’s a credit to their group of guys there and it’s a credit to (Islanders coach Ted Nolan.”

One area Paddock did acknowledge the Islanders may suffer is on shoot-ins. DiPietro is one of the best in the league when it comes to handling the puck and is sometimes viewed as a third defenceman when it comes to getting control in their own zone.

“Hopefully we’ll see, or be able to try and expose that to some extent,” Paddock said.

Jason Spezza, who is now riding an eight-game point-scoring streak after getting two assists last night in Buffalo, said he didn’t necessarily think DiPietro’s absence would make life easier for the Senators.

“There’s a lot of good NHL goalies out there,” he said. “I’m sure Dubielewicz is looking for an opportunity to show himself, but Ricky is one of the best when he’s playing well, he played great against us the last time we played them in their building, and he’s definitely one of the top goaltenders.”

Dubielewicz will have to be great over the next stretch, given the Islanders have scored the fewest goals of any team in the NHL this season (83).

Martin Gerber, winner of two straight, gets the start in goal for Ottawa.

The Islanders won the only other meeting between these two teams this season back in November, beating Ottawa 3-2 in a shootout.

The Senators are coming off two straight wins, 3-1 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 23 and 4-3 versus the Sabres in Buffalo last night.

The Senators’ next game is Saturday night at Scotiabank Place against the Washington Capitals.

 
 
 
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