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New York Islanders right wing Oliver Wahlstrom celebrates his goal scored in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Islanders won 5-3 on Nov. 24, 2023.Marc DesRosiers/Reuters

The New York Islanders played 57 minutes of Friday night’s game with four defencemen and the Ottawa Senators still couldn’t beat them.

New York put a gutsy effort together to beat Ottawa 5-3 and deserved to leave with the two points.

The Islanders found themselves short-handed early on when both Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho were injured after playing just two shifts, leaving New York to play the remainder of the game down two defencemen.

“That was an incredible effort,” said Islanders coach Lane Lambert. “We knew real early in the game what we were up against I thought they did a good job of making sure they kept their shift as short as possible and I just thought it was an incredible effort by the four of them.

“I’ve never experienced that before where we’ve been down to four ‘D’ for pretty much the entire game.”

The Islanders (8-6-5) had contributions from all its players with five different goal scorers and 31 blocked shots.

Kyle Palmieri and Oliver Wahlstrom each had a goal and an assist. Mat Barzal, Anders Lee and Simon Holmstrom also scored. Semyon Varlamov stopped 29 shots.

“It was a lot of minutes for everyone,” said Noah Dobson, who played a team-high 31 minutes five seconds. “I think as a group everyone was aware and the forwards did a good job helping us out getting back and then we needed [Varlamov] to make some big saves and he did that.”

The Senators (8-8-0), who were playing their first game since returning from Sweden for the Global Series, failed to take advantage of the Islanders’ depleted lineup.

“You have to forecheck, you have to take the walls away,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “We did it for a stretch in the second period, but not enough and when we made mistakes, it ended up in the net.

“We just didn’t make it hard enough on them defensively.”

Drake Batherson scored a pair of goals for Ottawa and Tim Stutzle buried his fifth. Anton Forsberg made 21 saves.

The game was tied 1-1 after the first. Batherson opened the scoring with a power-play goal and Palmieri tied it after winning the battle for a rebound in front.

A wild second period saw the two teams combine for five goals.

The Senators appeared to take a 2-1 lead at the six-minute mark of the second, but it was called off for being offside. Wahlstrom scored almost immediately for New York to take the lead.

“It was a great call by our video staff we knew the thing was offside for the period of time that it was in the zone and we were going to challenge if something came of it,” said Lambert. “We score after so certainly there was a momentum shift.”

The Islanders then went on to score a pair of goals in a span of six seconds. Barzal beat Forsberg with a wrist shot on the power play, and off the ensuing faceoff the Islanders took control and Lee scored to give New York a 4-1 lead.

“When they scored the 3-1 goal, it felt like we got behind, obviously,” said Forsberg. “And then I let in the fourth one, there. I should’ve had that one. It’s uphill from there. I’ve got to find more consistency and get a few saves there.”

The Senators replied with a pair of goals of their own, scoring 47 seconds apart on nearly identical plays.

Mathieu Joseph won a battle for the puck along the back boards and put it out front to Stutzle.

Joseph then won another battle and put the puck to the front of the net, where Stutzle made a little bump pass to Batherson for his second of the night.

Despite the strange turn of events, Stutzle thought his team would prevail.

“I was 100 per cent confident we were going to win that game,” he said. “There was never a doubt in my mind.

“Give credit to their goalie, he made some huge saves.”

The Islanders took a two-goal lead early in the third on Holmstrom’s goal, which went off Ottawa’s Vladimir Tarasenko.

The Senators had a last chance to get back in the game when Barzal took a slashing penalty and Ottawa pulled Forsberg for a two-man advantage, but Varlamov was solid.

Up next

The Senators will host the Florida Panthers on Monday night. The Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night. New York’s Matt Martin did not travel with the team and will miss his fourth-straight game.

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