BARRIE, Ont. -- Johan Sundstrom scored twice, while the top line of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson contributed another pair of goals as the Islanders skated to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in split-squad, preseason action Sunday at Barrie Molson Centre.
Ending the exhibition season on a high note, Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said the next step is making tough decisions to cut the roster down to 23 players by Friday.
“With our 5-on-5 and special teams play, we’ve accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Capuano said. “We’ve still got Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week to work more on those things. All of our guys have battled for the last few weeks. Unfortunately, you can only keep so many of them.”
The Islanders came out firing in the first period, tallying three goals before the opening act was over. Kyle Okposo scored unassisted at 6:10 when he let a slap shot go from the high slot. His shot went in off the goal post, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
Just as an Islanders power play came to an end late in the period, Johan Sundstrom redirected a Thomas Hickey shot from up high in the zone past Ottawa goaltender Robin Lehner at 18:53. Thirty seconds later, Justin Johnson netted his first marker of the preseason when he snuck a shot through Lehner’s pads and in.
“It was a big thrill, that’s pretty much all I can say,” Johnson, who also took part in a fight later in the contest, said. “(Alan) Quine and Brett (Gallant) and I were skating around the neutral zone and the puck popped loose. Quine made a nice, soft pass to me. Luckily it went in.”
Matt Puempel closed the gap for Ottawa on a second-chance opportunity early in the middle period with his first goal of the preseason. Midway through the frame, the Islanders countered back on Sundstrom’s second marker of the night. Joe Diamond protected the puck in the corner, spun to avoid a defender and fired a cross-ice pass through the slot to a waiting Sundstrom for the close-range goal.
“I had good chemistry all night with (John) Persson and Diamond. We’ve been working hard all through camp and it was nice to get two goals.”
John Tavares added a goal, his fourth in as many preseason games, on a backhand in the third period. Tavares, who scored 215 goals in his Ontario Hockey League career, had never scored at Barrie Molson Centre, the home building of the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
Sunday’s split-squad games mark the conclusion of the Islanders exhibition schedule. The club will start the regular season Oct. 4 at the New Jersey Devils, and the home opener is Oct. 5 vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
89 Cory Conacher – 7 Kyle Turris – 16 Clarke MacArthur
14 Colin Greening – 15 Zack Smith – 25 Chris Neil
26 Matt Puempel – 18 Jim O’Brien – 61 Mark Stone
28 Matt Kassian – 57 Derek Grant – 55 Buddy Robinson
2 Jared Cowen – 46 Patrick Wiercioch
74 Mark Borowiecki – 77 Joe Corvo
45 Chris Wideman – 70 Ben Blood
40 Robin Lehner
30 Andrew Hammond
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