Scotiabank Place was a happening place on Tuesday night. The New York Islanders came from behind twice before the Ottawa Senators tied the score and sent the game into the extra session. But it was the Islanders who came up big in the shootout. Rookie goaltender Nathan Lawson made two saves, while Rob Schremp and Frans Nielsen came up big to lead the Islanders to a 4-3 win, their fourth straight.
“That was great,” Lawson said about Nielsen’s game-winning shootout goal. “It really surprised me. It caught me off guard. He usually has that patented move. But he’s been scoring so many ways and he’s such a skilled player that he can do it every way.”
On the night, Lawson made 28 saves, but it was the extra two he made during the shootout which helped the rookie record his first NHL win. Alex Kovalev scored, but Lawson remained patient and made glove saves on both Jason Spezza and Bobby Butler.
Nathan Lawson #52 of the New York Islanders makes save as Jarkko Ruutu #73 of the Ottawa Senators provides a screen at Scotiabank Place on February 15, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
“They have some pretty good shooters that they send out in the shootout,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “(Lawson) kept us in the game. He deserves to get that win. I thought our defense were outstanding tonight. I thought our forwards were okay, but our defense was outstanding with our goaltending tonight.”
Because of that effort, the game was a battle until the very end. Erik Karlsson tied the score at three when he netted a goal from the slot at 15:56 of the third period, sending the game into overtime.
“I give a lot of credit to Ottawa,” Capuano said. “We could say that we didn’t have our legs to start the game, but it was something to how they were playing. They did regroup. Obviously when they got down to four D with (Sergei) Gonchar and (Chris) Campoli out, it took a little bit of a toll on them. But we played hard. We came back in the third and the guys regrouped.”
It was a goal from Josh Bailey at 6:39 of the third period that gave the Islanders their only lead of the game (3-2). Bailey had multiple chances throughout the game and even rushed the net on a few different opportunities, but midway through the game, Capuano changed the lines and had Bailey center Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner.
Not only did Bailey score his first goal in 22 games, the goal extended his point streak to three games.
“To get three points in the last three games is big for him,” Capuano said. “He’s just got to keep working and when you work hard, good things happen.”
Grabner earned a shorthanded breakaway and ultimately tied the score at two after he stole the puck at center ice. While Elliott initially stopped him, Grabner didn’t give up on his second chance and wrapped around the back of the net to shovel the puck across the goal line at 2:48 of the third.
The goal was Grabner’s 25th of the season and has elevated the forward to the top of the rookie goal scoring charts, surpassing Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks (24 goals).
Josh Bailey #12 and Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders watch as the puck rings off the crossbar above the head of Brian Elliott #30 of the Ottawa Senators in a game at Scotiabank Place on February 15, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
“He’s on fire,” Okposo said. “It’s pretty indescribable right now, but he’s earned it. He works hard and tonight was just a hard-working goal. That’s how he’s been scoring. Kudos to him.”
While the Islanders were able to take the lead in the third period, the second stanza was equally as important. Ryan Shannon scored a power play goal at 12:57 to bring the Senators ahead 2-1.
But the Islanders were already coming back from behind. Blake Comeau scored at 8:07 to tie the score at one. As Comeau took a wrist shot as he was sliding into the boards and as Elliott tried to make the save, the puck deflected off him and into the goal.
For the third time this season, the Islanders have won a game after their opponent scored the first goal. The Senators took the early 1-0 lead when Bobby Butler scored a power play goal 17:55 into the first. With that goal, Spezza recorded an assist and posted his 500th career point.
“That one there is a big step for us because we did not have our best game,” Okposo said. “And we found a way to get two points. That’s what we need to do. That’s what good teams do.”
Notes: During the first period, Andrew MacDonald collided with Chris Kelly at center ice. MacDonald would not return for the rest of the period, but came back out at the start of the second with a full shield.