April 07, 2014

Just two weeks ago, the New York Islanders were rolling right along.

They won six of seven on their longest road trip of the season and got a win in their first home game in nearly three weeks.

Now, a rough stretch at possibly the worst time with the regular season winding down has put the Islanders' postseason chances in jeopardy.

After briefly moving up to second place in the Metropolitan Division, New York is just 1-4-2 in its past seven games and has dropped to fourth heading into Wednesday night's home matchup with the Ottawa Senators.

The Islanders (38-24-9) still hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, with Detroit and Philadelphia tied for the final playoff position just two points back. New York fell 4-1 to the Flyers on Monday.

''It's frustrating a little bit,'' captain John Tavares said. ''Obviously it's an important time of year and we're not playing our best. The main thing is that we stay positive and stay together.''

The Islanders just came off a period in which they played 12 of 14 games on the road, finishing 8-4-2 after the sizzling start.

Now, after another loss, the Islanders have 11 games left in the season - including seven at home, where they are 21-9-4.

''We have to find a way to pull ourselves out of it,'' right wing Kyle Okposo said. ''We got to come together as a team and just bring it, play better. Right now we're pretty inconsistent, kind of good shift, bad shift. We don't really turn the tide and that's what we need this time of year. ''

Coach Jack Capuano doesn't think the team's lack of success is because of a lack of effort, but rather because some players are just struggling.

''You can't look at the team and say, 'Is there urgency?' There's a lot of guys playing with a lot of urgency,'' he said. ''You got other guys that are struggling, so it might look like they're not playing with urgency."

The team's struggles have coincided with the absence of starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was injured late during a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh on March 8. He is out for at least the rest of the regular season and into the start of a possible playoff appearance. Thomas Greiss, who was 18-6-3 with a 2.20 goals-against average at the time, is 1-4-1 with a 2.67 GAA since then.

Ottawa (34-32-8) makes its first-ever trip to Brooklyn after beating New York 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 5 and losing 5-2 on Jan. 22. Captain Erik Karlsson has five points in those games.

The Senators fell 4-2 at home to league-leading Washington on Tuesday. They were 0 for 4 on the power play, dropping to 0 for 27 in their last 10 games.

''We're getting some looks and we're doing some good things, but it's not enough,'' said center Mika Zibanejad, who has six points in a five-game run. ''It's not enough when you don't win games. We just need to get better.''

The Senators lost defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a lower-body injury versus the Capitals and he will miss this contest. Winger Chris Neil was a late scratch because of illness.

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