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Islanders swimming, Senators sinking ahead of matchup

OTTAWA -- If the New York Islanders were on Cloud Nine as they flew north for Saturday night's game at Canadian Tire Centre, they surely didn't see their next opponents on the way.

The Ottawa Senators were slinking home at the same time.

Both teams had slow starts in the first of back-to-back games on Friday.

The Islanders trailed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 after two periods and the Senators were tied 1-1 through 20 minutes with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but they were also being outshot 14-4 and kept alive by goalie Craig Anderson.

From there, the Islanders (13-7-2) and Senators (8-7-6) continued to go in opposite directions.

New York rallied to win for the fifth time in six games, a 5-4 victory on an overtime goal by Nick Leddy. Ottawa lost its fifth in a row, falling 5-2 to the streaking Blue Jackets.

"It's a tough slide right now, a lot of frustration," Senators winger Tom Pyatt said while searching for positives. "We're going to be a better team coming out of this. We just have to keep building it. It's nice that we have that game (Saturday) to get right back into it."

Returning to the friendly confines of their own rink won't necessarily provide a boost, as the Senators are 4-4-5 at home. They were 4-0-0 on the road before dropping three straight on a trip that started with games against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.

"The road trip is not good, there is nothing to draw from it," said defenseman Dion Phaneuf, whose team is in a 0-of-17 rut on the power play. "But we've got to find a way to claw back."

The Senators hit the road again for six in a row after facing the Islanders.

The Islanders' comeback against the Flyers, which started with third-period goals by Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd, lifted them into third place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Washington Capitals. They have more than erased a start that saw them win just one of their first four games and two of their first six.

"As cliche as it sounds, you can't make the playoffs in the first 20 games, but you can definitely get out of it," Eberle told Newsday. "We're in the hunt and that's where you want to be. We want to continue to roll."

Against the Senators, they are expected to face struggling backup goalie Mike Condon and an Erik Karlsson who has not picked up a point in his last five games.

"They're a very fast, skilled team and they got the best defenseman in the league," Leddy said of the Senators and Karlsson. "He's always a challenge to stop. We're looking forward to the challenge."

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