SENS STRIKE EARLY, OFTEN
Shawn Bates made his return to the Islanders, and U.S. Olympians Jason Blake and Mark Parrish scored, but the Senators were the big story, putting together a 4-2 win by building off a three-goal first period.
Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery added another chapter to the history between the two teams before the first puck was dropped, by not turning to face the American flag following the Canadian anthem. The fans shouted at the netminder to turn around, but he didn't budge, earning the fans' boos every time he touched the puck.
After some early pressure by Jason Blake's line, the Senators took over, drawing first-blood five minutes into the first. A pair of long passes by Brian Pothier and Vaclav Varada got behind the Islanders' defense, seting up an oncoming Patrick Eaves. The rookie got his stick on the puck just ahead of Rick DiPietro's crease and tipped it off the crossbar then off DiPietro's back for a 1-0 lead.
Eric Godard took exception to the goal, and took out his frustration on Senators tough guy Brian McGrattan. Using a combination of quick in-close jabs and some heavy overhead hits, Godard took a close edge in the battle, but both men were standing when the refs stepped in.
Less than a minute later, Janne Niinimaa was called for hooking, sending Ottawa to the power play and a 2-0 lead. Taking a cross-ice pass from Daniel Alfredsson, Senators defenseman Zdeno Chara fired a one-timer that beat DiPietro through the five-hole. Just before the goal though, Brent Sopel was also whistled for hooking, putting Ottawa right back on the power play. It was deja vu for the Islanders, as Andrej Meszaros' one-timer from the point snaked past DiPietro, giving the Sens three goals on their first five shots.
The Islanders started the second period on the power play, but the advantage switched back and forth quickly, thanks to a pair of penalties called in the first two minutes. Once Jeff Hamilton was sprung from the sin bin though, the Islanders got back on the man-advantage and back within two goals. Picking up the puck along the boards from Hamilton, Jason Blake snapped a hard wrist shot into the top right corner of the net, over Ray Emery's glove. The assist gave Hamilton points in all four games he's played this year.
The Islanders received a few more man-up chances in the period, but it was Ottawa's Dany Heatley who would pot the next puck, putting on a one-man show in the Islanders' end of the ice. Pulling away from the boards, Heatley put a smooth move on Brad Lukowich, and fired a goal over Rick DiPietro's glove.
The early going of the third period gave the Coliseum crowd a couple of things to cheer about, even if they didn't change the score of the game. First, Bates showed he was back in game shape, going head to head with 6-foot-2 Andrej Meszaros at the Ottawa blueline, and came away from the hit without a scratch. Then, Arron Asham looked to score the Islanders' second goal of the night, ripping a shot on Emery from along the boards. The hard shot broke the netminders stick and fell behind him, but trickled to the right post and bounced out.
Mark Parrish made sure to avoid Emery's stick with a blast of his own a moment later, and pulled his team within two goals. Taking a blueline-to-blueline pass from Janne Niinimaa, Wyatt Smith stepped into the Sens' zone and fed Parrish between the circles. Flying in on goal, Parrish wired a shot into the top of the cage, over Emery's catching glove for his 13th goal of the year.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Andrej Meszaros, 2. Brian Pothier, 3. Zdeno Chara ... Jeff Hamilton was called back up from Bridgeport for Friday's tilt, and extended his points streak to four games, picking up a goal and four assists in his first four appearances this season... For the Islanders, Oleg Kvasha (ankle), Kevin Colley (knee), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen (healthy) were scratched, while the Senators sat Jason Spezza (chest), Brandon Bochenski (shoulder) and Martin Havlat (shoulder)... Mike York's points streak ended at eight games and 15 points.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Mark Parrish on the team's first period struggles:
"You can't give a team like power plays and opportunities, because they'll take advantage and put you behind the 8 ball."
On the team's next game against the Sabres:
"We need to beat teams regardless of whether we are coming out of the holiday break or not. Buffalo is a team we need to beat in order to move up in the standings."
Rick DiPietro on the importance of starting strong:
"It's frustrating because you never want to go down that early, epically against a team that good. Those first five minutes we were buzzing. We played good enough to win tonight."
On preparing for the next string of games:
"It will be good for us to get a few days off to relax and get away from the rink for awhile. January is a big month for us."
On giving up three first period goals:
"The third one bothered me the most. It looked like it skipped off the ice. It looked like it was coming directly on the ice and it just skipped up and caught the shaft. I did feel good the whole game and felt sharp in warm-ups.
Steve Stirling on calling a timeout early in the first to regroup:
"You can't fall behind like that and expect to come back against many teams in this league. The first five minutes we had some jump, but they got one and it felt like we had a mental breakdown for the next three minutes."
On the pivotal moment of the game:
"When it was 3-1 Satan had a power play shot that the kid (Ray Emery) made a nice save on. That was the turning point."
On the return of Shawn Bates from his hamstring injury:
"I thought his timing and speed was a little off, but that's to be expected. It will probably take him 3-5 games to get back to full speed."
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(18) Jeff Hamilton-(28) Wyatt Smith-(37) Mark Parrish
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(17) Shawn Bates-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(44) Janne Niinimaa-(25) Brad Lukowich
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(15) Dany Heatley-(21) Bryan Smolinski-(11) Daniel Alfredsson
(27) Peter Schaefer-(12) Mike Fisher-(25) Chris Neil
(26) Vaclav Varada-(22) Chris Kelly-(44) Patrick Eaves
(20) Antoine Vermette-(5) Christoph Schubert-(16) Brian McGrattan
(3) Zdeno Chara-(4) Chris Phillips
(24) Anton Volchenkov-(6) Wade Redden
(14) Andrej Meszaros-(2) Brian Pothier
(1) Ray Emery
(39) Dominik Hasek