PENALTIES POWER SENS WIN
With four of the eight goals scored with the man-advantage, Friday's matinee between the Islanders and Senators was a special-teams contest, a battle Ottawa's powerplay helped them win, 6-2.
The opening minutes of Friday's afternoon meeting were quiet until resident tough-guy Eric Godard and Sens rookie Brian McGrattan dropped the gloves at the 2:57 mark. Both big men got a fair amount of shots off, but it was McGrattan, the AHL single-season penalty-minute record holder, who looked a bit dazed heading to the penalty box, as Godard popped him on the chin with several jabs and landed a few overhand blows.
Once they opened up space in the sin bin, Miroslav Satan took a seat on a tripping call, putting the 9th-ranked Ottawa powerplay on the ice. With the man-advantage, Jason Spezza attempted a cross-slot pass that was deflected, bouncing over Janne Niinimaa's stick to a waiting Dany Heatley, who knocked it past Rick DiPietro for a 1-0 lead.
The locals would get a powerplay of their own moments later, with former Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara whistled for interference. The Isles couldn't capitalize, but with the sides even, they would tie things up on an Alexei Yashin tally. Mark Parrish pulled the puck out of a tangle along the left boards in the Sens' zone, and led a streaking Radek Martinek in on net. Skating around a diving Ottawa defense, Martinek drew Dominik Hasek out of the net and found Yashin in the slot for an easy tap-in goal.
The Senators picked up another powerplay opportunity to end the period, but a block by Mike York on a Zdeno Chara point blast and some hustling play by Jason Blake and Arron Asham kept the score at 1-1 going into the locker room.
In the second period, the Islanders once again found themselves killing a penalty in the first three minutes of the period, and once again, the Senators scored with the man-advantage. Vaclav Varada took the puck deep in the corner of the Islanders' zone, and whipped a bad-angle shot that bounced off a sliding Zhitnik and past DiPietro. Three minutes later, the Senators made it 3-1 when first-year Senator Patrick Eaves pounded home a rebound off Antoine Vermette's stuff-in attempt.
Hasek came up big several times in the second period, especially with two Senators defensemen off the ice, keeping the Islanders off the boards on a 5-on-3, and then 5-on-4 powerplay. But with six minutes left in the stanza, Daniel Alfredsson put the home team back on the powerplay, getting called for four minutes by arguing a penalty on his high-stick to Blake. Moving the puck around the offensive zone, Brent Sopel fed Zhitnik at the right point, for a one-timed ripper through Hasek's legs.
A flurry of chances for both teams followed during the second half of Alfredsson's double-minor, highlighted by Trent Hunter's break-in, which clipped the crossbar and went wide. Another Senators powerplay led to another Senators goal though, as Varada picked up his second point of the afternoon. Taking the puck at the left post of the Islanders' net, he sent it through a maze to Peter Schaefer out in front. Schafer put a floater on net that beat DiPietro, giving Ottawa a two-goal lead.
The Islanders opened the third period on the kill, but after finishing off the remainder of Martinek's second-period penalty, the team went on the offensive. Keeping the pressure on in Ottawa's end of the ice, New York kept the puck moving, but couldn't get much on net, thanks to an aggressive effort by the Senators' defense. A mid-period Islanders powerplay generated a few more chances, but Hasek stoned the New York shooters repeatedly.
With just under seven minutes left, Spezza pushed Ottawa's lead to three goals, taking a lead pass from Alfredsson just inside the blueline, and depositing a one-timer over DiPietro's glove-hand. Denis Hamel capped off the scoring for the Senators in the final minute of the game, converting on a breakaway.
OFF THE ICE: For the Islanders, Shawn Bates (hamstring), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen (healthy) were scratched, while the Senators sat Martin Havlat (hamstring), Wade Redden (knee) and Chris Neil (healthy)... Rick DiPietro and Arron Asham played their 100th and 300th NHL games, respectively... The last time either team won two consecutive games against the other was March 15 and November 3, 2003, when the Islanders won in Ottawa and on Long Island... Neither team has lost in regulation this season when leading after two periods.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Mark Parrish on pregame strategy:
"You know going into the game that you have to outskate and outwork them to slow them down. We have to do a better job of keeping their power play off the ice"
On the team's performance:
"The penalty kill needs to do a better job. We didn't win the one-on-one battles in front of either net. We didn't match their speed or work ethic."
Rick DiPietro on special teams:
"Their (Ottawa) poweplay seemed to score every time they stepped on the ice. We really miss Shawn (Bates). Guys need to step up."
On tomorrow's game:
"We need to come out strong in the first period. Philadelphia's a tough team. We need to stay out of the penalty box."
Alexi Yashin on how the team will rebound against a divisional opponent:
"We just need to keep focus and fight every single shift. We've played Philadelphia well the last game. It's time to beat good teams. We don't have much time to regroup."
Steve Stirling's assessment on the game:
"When it was 3-1, we made a go at it. Once we were down 4-2, it's tough to come back. We just took some silly penalties in the second."
On tomorrow's game:
"There's no rest for the weary. We have to hop on the bus and regroup. Tomorrow we need to stay out of the box and play more five on five."
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(16) Mike York-(37) Mark Parrish
(55) Jason Blake-(12) Oleg Kvasha-(7) Trent Hunter
(21) Robert Nilsson-(27) Jeremy Colliton-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(25) Brad Lukowich-(44) Janne Niinimaa
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(11) Daniel Alfredsson-(19) Jason Spezza-(15) Dany Heatley
(20) Antoine Vermette-(12) Mike Fisher-(26) Vaclav Varada
(27) Peter Schaefer-(21) Bryan Smolinski-(44) Patrick Eeves
(45) Denis Hamel-(16) Brian McGrattan-(22) Chris Kelly
(4) Chris Phillips -(3) Zdeno Chara
(2) Brian Pothier -(14) Andrej Meszaros
(24) Anton Volchenkov -(5) Christoph Schubert
(39) Dominik Hasek
(1) Ray Emery