WHY THE SENATORS WON
They were due for a win and the Islanders are due for a bunch of losses. You couldn’t fault the Senators’ effort in two of three defeats this week — they just weren’t getting the results. The Isles, meanwhile, were 6-3-1 in 10 games prior to this one, inexplicably knocking off the likes of Colorado, Detroit and Pittsburgh. The pendulum swung back for both teams Thursday night, as the Senators ran up the score on their opponent for once.
Chris Kelly, Senators
Plenty of candidates here, but Kelly was arguably the best of the bunch. Known primarily as a defensive centre, he had a field day with the Islanders’ undermanned, inexperienced, overwhelmed blue line corps. He had a goal and an assist, one of four grinders with multi-point games (Zack Smith, Jesse Winchester and Matt Carkner also cashed in).
The only thing worse than the Islanders’ defence Thursday night was the goaltending. Okay, maybe it was a tie. Regardless, New York couldn’t get a routine save, let alone a game-saving one. Starter Kevin Poulin (who was hooked 9:50 into the game) and Nathan Lawson combined to stop just 21 of 27 shots through two periods.
The Islanders’ best opportunity to mount a comeback came at 10:31 of the second period, when Blake Comeau scored to make it 3-2. The rally was short-lived: Kelly restored Ottawa’s two-goal lead just 20 seconds later, when he jumped on a Matt Moulson turnover, danced around a flat-footed John Tavares just inside the blue line and zinged a shot to the top corner.
- 1: Win for the Senators in their last seven games.
- 1-16-4: New York’s record when trailing after one period.
- Plus-five: Sergei Gonchar’s +/- rating to “improve” to minus-15 on the season.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Thursday night’s game was on TSN, and the panel got a kick out current Islander and former Ottawa 67 Zenon Konopka’s pet rabbit, Hoppy. A little Google research unearthed this gem of a quote from an interview the lovable tough guy did on the Isles’ web site about teammate P.A. Parenteau’s television preferences: “Parenteau gets upset because there’s a lot of cartoons (on their T.V.), but Hoppy likes to watch cartoons.”
It was a night of firsts for the Senators. Rookie Robin Lehner — who at 19 become the youngest goalie ever to start a game in an Ottawa sweater — picked up his first career NHL victory by stopping 20 shots. Corey Locke, called up from AHL Binghamton for the first time this season, scored his first NHL point (an assist) on a Nick Foligno goal in the second period.