OTTAWA, Ont. - Riley Wetmore, Ryan Strome, Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson all scored as the Islanders finished the preseason on a high note, winning 4-1 in a split-quad contest against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday night.
Assistant Head Coach and Senior Advisor to the General Manager Doug Weight filled in as Head Coach while Jack Capuano in charge of the squad in Barrie. Weight was very pleased with the team’s final performance of the preseason.
“It was a solid effort,” said Weight. “We dictated a lot of the play. We put pucks in good spots and we were hungry. We pride ourselves on being successful when we outwork the other team and we saw that tonight.”
With 3:12 remaining in the first period, Wetmore started things off for the Islanders after a great set-up by Kirill Kabanonv. Kabanov deked through a few Senators defenders down the right side of the offensive zone. The righty then swept behind the net, baiting Senators goalie Craig Anderson and leaving him well out of position. Kabanov dished the puck to Wetmore who fired from the low slot into the back of the net to give the Isles the 1-0 lead. In three preseason games, Wetmore has two goals.
Just 31 seconds later, the Islanders added to the lead when Strome tallied from 15 feet away from Anderson’s right side. From behind the net, Anders Lee spotted Strome who wasted no time firing the puck past Anderson for the 2-0 lead.
The past three Islanders first round draft picks were all involved in the third goal of the game 3:35 into the second period. While on the power play, 2011 fifth overall pick Strome fed 2012 fourth overall pick Griffin Reinhart, who found 2013 15th overall pick Ryan Pulock. Pulock blasted a slap shot past Anderson for his first goal in an Islanders jersey.
“It was a really cool connection,” said Pulock of the three first rounders getting on the score sheet together. “I think it was a good play as Reinhart found me open. He gave me a good pass and I got the hard shot away.”
Another first round draft pick found himself on the scoreboard just over three minutes later. After an outlet pass from goaltender Evgeni Nabokov found Chris Bruton at center ice, Bruton fed Brock Nelson as he crossed the offensive blue line. On a partial breakaway, Nelson snapped a shot past Anderson to give the Islanders a 4-0 lead.
“All the credit goes to Nabokov,” said Nelson. “He made quite a pass up to Bruton and then he made the nice heads up play giving it to me. I just tried to get a quick shot off.”
Jean-Gabriel Pageau beat Nabokov with a one-timer on the power play with 5:46 remaining in the second period. It was Nabokov’s only blemish in 40 minutes of play. He finished the night with 14 saves on 15 shots before being replaced by Ken Reiter for the third period. In 20 minutes of action, Reiter stopped all 11 shots he faced, including a Milan Michalek breakaway.
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.
35 Ken Reiter
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