The New York Islanders led 3-1 after 40 minutes, but faced a series of tough breaks to lose 5-3 to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum.
After the Senators tied the game at 3-3 in the third period, Keith Aucoin had a goal disallowed and Sergei Gonchar scored with 60 seconds remaining to give the Senators the lead. An empty-net goal in the final moments sealed the game, dropping the Islanders to 13-13-3 overall.
After the game, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said the squad was unable to match its’ opponents level of play in the last period.
“This is a tough game,” Capuano said. “Nothing that's easy is worth having. You have to battle in all areas. You have to put individual success aside. That will come with the team's success. We're the type of team that needs all 20 guys going for us to be successful. That's the way we're built. We had some guys on the back end tonight that I thought struggled a little bit. We all struggled at certain areas tonight, but we've just got to battle back.”
Ottawa struck six minutes into the game on Matt Kassian’s first goal of the season. Gonchar flung the puck toward the net from the right point and Kassian fought through tight defensive coverage to deflect the puck home past Evgeni Nabokov. Patrick Wiercioch got the second assist on the play.
Aucoin tied it up late in the first for the Islanders. Kyle Okposo attacked the zone and brought the puck below the goal line before spinning and finding Aucoin entering the zone off a change. Aucoin sidestepped a defenseman and went five-hole on Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop.
Once the second period started, it didn’t take long for the Islanders to gain the lead. Josh Bailey scored his 50th career marker 14 seconds into the frame to make the score 2-1. Okposo made the play happen by faking a shot to pass to Bailey, who drove the net and sent a backhander past the 6’7” Bishop.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored on a power play midway through the second period to open the Islanders lead to 3-1. Brad Boyes fed Matt Moulson near the goal line, who forced Bishop to drop down before backhanding a pass across the crease to Visnovsky. The defenseman’s second of the year hit twine at 11:46.
The Ottawa comeback began early in the third, with Jakob Silfverberg’s seventh tally of the season a minute after the intermission. The winger deflected Patrick Wiercioch’s blast from the right point over Nabokov’s shoulder.
Just a minute after Silfverberg’s goal, Zack Smith tied the contest following a faceoff in the Islanders zone. Gonchar broke his stick while playing the puck, and it wound up on the stick of Smith, who wheeled around and scored at the 2:15 mark on a bouncing shot through traffic.
The Islanders appeared to have re-taken the lead five minutes later on what would have been Aucoin’s second of the game. The forward crashed the net to receive a feed from Casey Cizikas, and after Bishop made the stop, the puck ricocheted in off Aucoin’s skate and in. Following a lengthy video review, the play was ruled no goal because Aucoin was deemed to have made a kicking motion.
Despite the ruling, Aucoin talked after the game about the scoring chances his line was able to generate.
“We were being physical, we were getting pucks in deep, using our speed down low and they had a tough time defending us,” Aucoin said. “We’ve been doing this the last couple of games. When we get pucks to the net, we’ve been very successful.”
With one minute remaining and the score tied at 3-3, Gonchar scored from the right point to give the Senators a 4-3 advantage. Wiercioch and Guillaume Latendresse assisted on the goal, which caromed off a player in front of Nabokov. Seconds after the ensuing draw, Nabokov was pulled for an extra attacker, and Latendresse finished the scoring at 5-3 with an empty-net tally in the dying seconds.
“We can’t come out in the third period like that,” Okposo said afterward. “We have to find ways to win hockey games. We can’t give up a goal with a minute left. We needed this one, and it hurts.”
The Islanders will try to rebound Thursday, March 21, when they host the Montreal Canadiens for a 7:00 p.m. contest at Nassau Coliseum.
Notes: Kyle Okposo skated in his 300th career NHL game … Josh Bailey (one goal, one assist) recorded his first multi-point game of the season … The Islanders outshot the Senators 29-23 … The Islanders went 1-for-6 on the power play, and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill … Lubomir Visnovsky led the Islanders with 27:21 of ice time and five blocked shots … Matt Martin led all players with four shots on goal … The Islanders out-hit Ottawa 34-23, with Okposo’s five hits leading the way … The Islanders won 32-of-57 faceoffs, thanks to Frans Nielsen’s 8-for-12 (67%) night on the dot.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
14 Colin Greening - 7 Kyle Turris - 33 Jakob Silfverberg
73 Guillaume Latendresse - 15 Zack Smith - 11 Daniel Alfredsson
22 Erik Condra - 93 Mika Zibanejad - 25 Chris Neil
28 Matt Kassian - 13 Peter Regin - 18 Jim O'Brien
46 Patrick Wiercioch - 55 Sergei Gonchar
3 Marc Methot - 62 Eric Gryba
4 Chris Phillips - 61 Andre Benoit
30 Ben Bishop
40 Robin Lehner