A two-goal night from Rob Schremp, a two-assist night from Ty Wishart in his first NHL appearance as a New York Islander and an excellent display of restraint from rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin helped the Isles defeat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“It was a pretty intense game,” Schremp said. “The first period was all offense. Then it got rough, tighter checking and tempers got a little flared.”
Each team scored three goals in the opening period, but two penalties at the end of the second gave the Islanders a 5-on-3 advantage to start the third. It’s ultimately what they needed to lift them ahead 4-3. With four seconds remaining in the period, Chris Phillips took a penalty for interference.
But it was the penalty to Senators goaltender Robin Lehner which came at a crucial time. As Poulin skated towards the Islanders bench at the end of the second, Lehner elbowed him to the ground. And instead of fighting back, Poulin remained grounded drawing a two minute penalty for elbowing.
“I was going to the bench and listen – we scored on the power play after that,” Poulin said. “It’s perfect. I’m happy.”
With a two man advantage, the plan was to take it to the Senators to start the third and that’s exactly what they did. Schremp converted for the second time of the night as he scored the go-ahead power play goal at 1:39.
“It was nice to capitalize on that penalty,” Schremp said. “It was a bad penalty for their goalie to take and it was good to make him pay for it.”
Poulin agreed, “It was unbelievable. It was what I wanted. Five-on-three and we scored. It was perfect.”
Ty Wishart #6 of the New York Islanders, who played in his first game as an Islander, skates over to teammates celebrating the Islanders 5-3 win after an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators at the Nassau Coliseum on February 5, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Frans Nielsen converted on an empty net with just nine seconds remaining in regulation to solidify the 5-3 win.
The chippiness started in the second period. Not only did Milan Michalek take a double minor for roughing at 17:20, his penalty was matched by an unsuspecting John Tavares after Lehner started attacking Matt Moulson for rushing the net. Andrew MacDonald also took a 10 minute misconduct.
“I lost a little bit of a gasket there in front of the net,” Moulson said. “I felt guys were taking advantage of me, punching me in the back of the head. My tough linemate there, John Tavares, came to my rescue. He’s always got my back. It was an intense game and those things happen.”
The first period was a bit of a different story. Matt Martin dropped the gloves with Zack Smith just 3:08 into the opening faceoff, but by the time the buzzer sounded at the end of the first 20 minutes, the score was tied at three.
“I thought we competed extremely hard out there today,” Moulson said. “Obviously, it was high scoring in the first period, and we tried to close it up after that a little bit – tighten it up. It was a battle for every inch out there and it showed in the end result.”
The Senators made a goaltending change – opting to put Robin Lehner between the pipes in exchange for Brian Elliott. But Islanders interim head coach decided to keep Poulin in the net to battle back, having full confidence that he’d be able to rally for the win.
“I had a lot of confidence in him that he would,” Capuano said. “It didn’t cross my mind one bit. He’s always been a competitor. He came out in the second and third and battled hard, and gave us a chance to win the game, especially late on that power play.”
Not only did Schremp score the go-ahead goal, he also gave the Senators a taste of their own medicine. He scored the game-tying goal (3-3) just 17 seconds after Alex Kovalev scored at 17:11 to give the Senators their only lead of the game.
Michael Grabner scored at 9:44, lifting the Islanders ahead 2-1, but Mike Fisher came back with a wrist shot at 12:20 to tie the score for the second time.
At 4:10 of the first, Moulson scored the opening goal of the contest, giving the Islanders the just their second lead to start a game in their last 15 games, but 13 seconds later Chris Neil tied the score 1-1.
Milan Michalek #9 of the Ottawa Senators fights with John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders during the second period of an NHL hockey game at the Nassau Coliseum on February 5, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
While it was a high-scoring game for the Islanders, Wishart had two assists (Grabner’s goal and Schremp’s first goal) in his first game with the Islanders and he played 15:20 (including 40 seconds on the power play).
“It was nice to put some points up,” Wishart said. “I was just happy to get a shot out there. I was kind of in awe of some of those guys, but I just tried to play hard and get the job done.”
As a result, his teammates awarded the defenseman with the hard hat, the honor given to the player whom they deem the team’s hardest worker for that night’s game.
“It’s huge, especially getting it from Hammy (Travis Hamonic),” Wishart said. “I played with him before and I’m really happy about it.”
Capuano was also impressed with Wishart’s performance.
“For the speedy bunch of forwards that he had tonight, I thought he played really well,” Capuano said. “He was composed, he moved the puck, he kept it simple. He was pretty impressive tonight.”
It was just the second time this season that the Islanders have outshot their opponent and recorded a win.
“We wanted to take care of business tonight and get as many pucks to the net and players to the net as we could,” Capuano said. We just wanted to win the hockey game.”