The New York Islanders rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to scratch out a 5-4 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday at Canadian Tire Centre.
The Islanders poured a season-high 57 shots on the Senators, but still needed a shootout to halt a two-game losing streak. Shootout ace Frans Nielsen debuted a new move for the game-clincher in the second round of the breakaway competition after having sent the game to overtime with his team-leading eighth goal of the season early in the third period.
“We were able to battle back, then they came back and we battled back again,” Andrew MacDonald said. “It was a great character win in here coming back a couple of times.”
The Senators came out of the gate flying, pressing the Islanders early with four shots in the first 1:09. The Isles weathered the storm and took control of the next 17 minutes, putting 18 shots on Sens backup Robin Lehner. Unable to solve the Swedish netminder, the Senators stole the period with two late goals, 62 seconds apart, from Erik Condra and Mika Zibanejad.
Midway through the second period, the Islanders rallied with two quick goals of their own. Thomas Vanek and John Tavares connected for the first time this season, as Vanek sent a no-look backhand pass across the crease to the open captain, who tapped in his fifth of the season.
“It was a great pass,” Tavares said. “Obviously to recognize I’m going to the net and to get it by the defender – I had the easy part (tapping it in). It was nice to get rewarded for how we were playing and get one in, break the seal and open the floodgates. We got another one right away. It was a big point in the game for us.”
Twenty-eight seconds later, Matt Martin deflected a Matt Carkner point shot from down low past Lehner to tie the score. The tie game didn’t last long as Bobby Ryan corralled an Evgeni Nabokov rebound and netted his seventh of the season to put the Sens back up at 12:34 of the second period. Clarke MacArthur scored his first goal as a Senator with a wraparound at 14:47 to reestablish Ottawa’s two-goal lead..
Pierre-Marc Bouchard brought the Isles back within one before the end of the middle frame, potting his second goal of the season off a rebound at the side of the net. Defenseman Matt Donovan and Kyle Okposo earned assists on the third Islanders goal.
Thomas Hickey set up Nielsen’s game tying goal in the third period with a cross-ice feed through the slot at 3:14.
Nabokov made 27 saves in regulation and three in the shootout for the win, stopping Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan. Lehner stopped 53 in regulation and one of two shootout attempts.
The Islanders don’t have long to revel in the victory, as they return to Nassau Coliseum to host the Boston Bruins Saturday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
MacDonald led all Islanders with 28:54 TOI and seven blocked shots … Bouchard (1G, 1A) and Kyle Okposo (2A) were the only Islanders with multi-point games… Radek Martinek led all Islanders with a +2 rating … The Islanders went 0-4 on the power play, but went a perfect 2-2 on the penalty kill … Matt Martin led all Islanders with eight hits, Cal Clutterbuck had six.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
89 Cory Conacher - 19 Jason Spezza - 25 Chris Neil
16 Clarke MacArthur - 7 Kyle Turris - 6 Bobby Ryan
9 Milan Mchalek - 15 Zack Smith - 93 Mika Zibanejad
14 Colin Greening - 57 Derek Grant - 22 Erik Condra
4 Chris Phillips - 65 Erik Karlsson
46 Patrick Wiercioch - 3 Marc Methot
2 Jared Cowen – 62 Eric Gryba