OILERS (1-6-1) at SENATORS (3-2-2)
TV: SNET-W, SNET-E, TVA
Season series: This is the first meeting between these two Canadian teams in almost two years. They last faced off on Feb. 11, 2012, when Taylor Hall scored in overtime to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 win. That was their first win over the Ottawa Senators in almost eight years, as the Senators hold an 8-1-1 edge over the Oilers since the 2004-05 season.
Big story: Barely two weeks into the season, both the Oilers and Senators have experienced lengthy losing streaks. Ottawa won its season opener in Buffalo against the Sabres before losing four consecutive road games. The Senators have rebounded nicely, winning their past two. The Oilers, on the other hand, are still looking to break out of a slump that has seen them lose five straight games and open their season-long six-game road trip with an 0-3-1 record.
Oilers: After mustering just one shootout victory in their first seven games, the Oilers hoped a visit to the New York Islanders might get them back on the winning track. The Islanders came into the contest having lost three straight, including a 4-3 shootout loss on Oct. 15 against the previously-winless Buffalo Sabres.
Edmonton fell behind 9:59 into the contest when Josh Bailey opened the scoring for New York. But Hall's two goals in eight seconds set a new franchise record for the fastest two goals from one player and suddenly put the Oilers ahead with four minutes remaining in the opening period. Despite outshooting the Islanders 14-9 in the second, Edmonton lost that lead when Kyle Okposo tied the game with a power-play marker 4:54 into the middle frame, followed by John Tavares' go-ahead goal 14 minutes later.
The Oilers appeared to run out of gas in the third. The Islanders outshot them 15-8 in the final period and it was only the strong play of embattled goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who finished the game with a season-high 37 saves, that kept the 3-2 loss close.
"This is where [Dubnyk] takes over and starts playing like we know he can. It would have been nice to get a win for him," Hall said. "A lot of guys were on their own page tonight. We can't do that and expect to win."
Senators: Ottawa can relate to the turmoil the Oilers are currently experiencing. The Senators started their season-opening six-game road swing with a 1-2-2 record before finishing with a 4-3 overtime win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday. Two nights later, Ottawa hosted its home opener against a New Jersey Devils team still looking for their first win of the season.
Ottawa pounced early against the Devils, with Erik Karlsson opening the scoring 4:32 into the contest. Goals from Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith gave Ottawa a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes despite being outshot 23-11.
New Jersey came out firing in the third, getting goals from Travis Zajac and Steve Bernier to cut the Ottawa lead to one goal. But Milan Michalek notched an insurance marker with 4:48 remaining in regulation and Jason Spezza scored into an empty net to give the Senators a 5-2 win led in large part by Craig Anderson's 40 saves.
"It's something we've seen [Anderson] do before," Karlsson said. "He's a great goalie and he comes up big for us when we need him, and obviously today he might have saved the game for us."
Who's hot: For the Oilers, Hall has seven points in his past six games. Center Mark Arcobello has six points (all assists) in his past four games. … Ottawa is led by Ryan, who has four goals and six points in five games this season. Spezza has four goals and six points in his past two games.
Injury report: Edmonton center Sam Gagner has been skating with the team, but remains out for at least a couple more weeks with a broken jaw. Jesse Joensuu (back), Ryan Hamilton (knee), Steve MacIntyre (knee) and Corey Potter (back) are all questionable for Saturday. … Ottawa has no injured players to report.
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