It’s one thing to impress your coach. It’s another to do it with as much zeal as the New York Islanders.
The Islanders fired 57 shots en route to a 5-4 shootout win against the Ottawa Senators on Friday. New York captain John Tavares said he hoped coach Jack Capuano liked what he saw.
“I’m sure it’s going to make our coach feel good. He’s always talking about getting a lot of pucks to the net and shots,” Tavares said.
“I think what’s important is that we got the ‘W’ and we got the 5-4 win. If it’s the other way around and lose in the shootout and we had that many shots it can be a little frustrating, but this is something to build on and carry over to the next game.”
Frans Nielsen scored the tying goal in the third period and then the only goal of the shootout in the Islanders win. Nielsen moved in on Senators goaltender Robin Lehner and put a backhand in on his team’s second shot of the shootout, and last they would need.
The Islanders (5-5-3) won for just the third time in their past 10 games while also getting goals from Matt Martin, Tavares and Pierre-Marc Bouchard in regulation with 27 saves from Evgeni Nabokov.
“It thought we played well and I thought structurally we were good and you want to get rewarded when you play well and the guys work ethic is where it needs to be,” said Capuano.
“We were resilient. When we play the way we know how to play we have success. Now we have to respond against a good (Boston) Bruins team tomorrow night.”
Erik Condra, Bobby Ryan, Mika Zibanejad and Clarke MacArthur scored for the Senators (4-6-3), but it was Lehner making the biggest contribution with 53 saves, including one off Thomas Vanek on a breakaway in overtime.
Ryan said it was as though the Senators were trying to find ways to lose.
“Yeah, we are. We find a way to go up two (goals) early and then we find a way to go up (two) in the second,” said Ryan. “I don’t know if it’s complacency. I don’t know what sets in for us. That’s when we don’t stick to the structure.
“When you don’t stick to the structure you’ve got a goalie that’s asked to make (53) saves and that’s unreasonable.”
MacArthur’s goal was his first as a Senator since signing with the club as a free agent back in July. Ryan, who was acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks the same day MacArthur signed, collected the 300th and 301st points of his career.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean tried to find the positives following his team’s fourth straight loss, and fifth in six games.
“When things aren’t going your way and going real bad sometimes you feel like you’re getting pummelled and pummelled and pummelled. I thought tonight we had some guys dig in,” MacLean said following the game that saw his two blow not one, but two two-goal leads to the Islanders.
“At the end of the day we found a way to get something out of the game, and the guys started digging in. Any time you’re in a tug of war you can’t start pulling back until you dig in and stop the other side from pulling. That’s a good sign heading into tomorrow that enough is enough.”
Ottawa went into the intermission clinging to a 4-3 lead after a frantic finish to the second period that had two Senators in the penalty box for the final 55 seconds.
When the third period resumed, the Islanders still had 57 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage to work with on fresh ice. But they were unable to score, producing just two shots and double-digit passes.
They did manage to tie the game at 3:14 of the third on Nielsen’s goal.
There were a total of five goals in the second period as the Islanders scored twice in 28 seconds to tie the game before the Senators rallied to grab a 4-2 lead.
Tavares had an empty net to deposit the puck in after a blind pass from Vanek found him alone in front. At 9:35 of the period Martin tied the game as he tipped a point shot from former Senator Matt Carkner past Lehner.
The Senators responded with goals from Ryan and MacArthur at 12:34 and 14:47, respectively.
With the teams playing 4-on-4 following a pair of minors, Bouchard put a rebound past Lehner from a sharp angle to pull New York back to within a goal.
Zack Smith was the Ottawa player in the box at the time. Thirty seconds after the Bouchard goal Smith emerged from the penalty box but barely made it 10 feet before being penalized for interference just three seconds after his first infraction ended.
Seven seconds after that Jared Cowen was called for holding, setting up the Islanders’ 5-on-3 that carried into the third period.
Ottawa took a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Condra, with his first of the season, and Zibanejad. Condra left the game in the second period with a muscle strain in his leg and didn’t return.
Notes: Derek Grant’s first-period assist Friday was his first NHL point in 11 career games, all with the Senators ... Vanek played in the 600th game of his NHL career Friday night, and second with the New York Islanders, recording his first point with his new team. In 598 career games with the Buffalo Sabres he had 497 points ... Tavares extended his point streak to 11-games Friday with a second-period goal. It’s the longest such streak in the NHL this season ... Matt Kassian and Joe Corvo were scratches for the Senators while Colin McDonald, Eric Boulton and Brian Straight didn’t dress for the Islanders.