Jason Spezza’s goal with 7:15 remaining in the third period broke open a 1-1 game, as the Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders 4-1 Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum in the team’s home finale.
Frans Nielsen scored the Islanders lone goal – his 25th of the season – pulling the home team into a 1-1 tie early in the third period, but the Senators pulled away with three goals in the back half of the final frame.
“I don’t think we played a bad game,” Nielsen said. “We came up a little short, but the effort was definitely there tonight.”
Nielsen scored 22 seconds into the third period, sliding a backhander underneath Craig Anderson, but Spezza scored the game-winner, a short-side shot over Anders Nilsson’s shoulder, 12 minutes later.
The Senators Captain led the way with a three-point night (two goals, one assist).
The Islanders outshot the Senators 46-32, but had trouble solving Craig Anderson, who made 45 saves in the win.
“We had 40-something shots, you hope that one has to go in,” Travis Hamonic said. “It’s not like we didn’t have the chances. We could have put five or six by him, but credit to Anderson, he played a good game. It seemed like we couldn’t get those second and third opportunities early on in the game.”
Nilsson made 29 saves – including a pair of outstanding saves on two-on-one opportunities – to keep the Islanders in the game, but was ultimately saddled with the loss. Nilsson was bumped out of position on Spezza’s winner, as Milan Michalek made contact with the Islanders’ netminder in his crease.
Ales Hemsky put the Senators ahead 3-1 less than two minutes later, beating Nilsson stick side on a partial breakaway. Matt Kassian rounded out the scoring with an empty-netter.
“I thought our kids battled, but the more skilled team won the game tonight,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “They are a skilled team and they caught our defense flat-footed on a couple of their goals.”
Brett Gallant made his NHL debut Tuesday, registering 6:02 TOI. Gallant made his presence felt in the opening frame, besting Kassian in a first-period fight.
The Islanders suffered another injury Tuesday, as Cal Clutterbuck left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
“When we get our team back and we’re ready and play the way that we can play, I have a lot of faith in our guys that we can make a push next year and get in the dance,” Capuano said.
The Islanders finish their season with three road games, starting Thursday night in Montreal. Puck drop from the Bell Centre goes at 7:30 p.m.