NEW YORK – After a slow start in their first match outside the Christmas holidays, New York Island residents increased their intensity at the end of the second period and then moved the Ottawa Senator in the third round.
Mathew Barzal had two goals and one assist to help the Islanders garner a 6-3 victory over the Senator on Friday night for their fifth win in six matches. Josh Bailey had goals and assists, and Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas also scored for New York, who returned from a two-goal deficit.
"A little drunk from rest," Lee said. "You could say we were weak in some areas, mentally and physically. Once we got engaged a little and found out, we really played a difficult game and were able to take it."
Thomas Greiss gave up three goals on 17 shots before he was drawn 6:11 to the second period. Robin Lehner, who began his career with Ottawa, came and stopped all 10 shots he faced to increase to 7-0-3 against his former team.
"Only a few tasks have not been answered," Barzal said of the Senator's initial goals. "Greissers have become a rock for us all year long … Lehner came and played well."
The Islanders trailed 2-0 at the start of the second half and 3-1 later in the middle period. New York then scored the last five goals, including four third goals.
Lee started his comeback when he took advantage of gifts from Senators in their own zone. Goalkeeper Mike McKenna got a chip behind his net, past Ben Harpur in the left corner, but Harpur's pass to Nick Paul slipped out of Paul's stick in the right circle. Lee got a chip and beat McKenna for the 14th with 2:32 to go midway through the period.
Boychuk tied the score 3-3 at 2:57 from the third as he fired a slap shot from the right point. That is the second this season, with both goals coming in their last four matches.
"Whenever you go down two, try to get one before the end of the period," Lee said. "We got it. And for Johnny to get out in the third house and rifle one house really set the momentum for the rest of the match."
Barzal, who received an assist led his 25th team at the start of the match, giving the Islanders their first advantage at 4:51. Barzal made it 5-3 after substitution by the Senator in the neutral zone, beating McKenna from the edge in the right circle for seventh with 7:36 left.
Urgent to shoot more by coach Barry Trotz, Barzal was converted in both of his shots on goal in the match.
"I tried to look at the net a little further," he said, "I'm just trying to make the right game. If the shot is there, the shot is there, if not, that's not it."
Cizikas added an empty netter with 54 seconds left for his 10th career.
Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Cody Ceci scored for Ottawa, who have lost six of eight (2-5-1). McKenna finished with 33 saves as the Senator fell to 4-13-1 on the road.
"We scored three goals," said Ottawa Guy Boucher coach. "We are solid, have control of the game. We gave them two goals – they have life and momentum … There are a few prizes and they scored two goals."
The game becomes somewhat late with a few fights, including pushing and pushing after the last bell.
Stone made the Senator on the scoreboard at the end of the first period, taking advantage of prizes by the Islanders in their own zone, beating Greiss from the left circle for the 17th with 3:42 remaining. It gave Stone eight goals and 17 points in his last 15 matches.
Duchene scored in power play at 2:47 seconds to make it 2-0. It was Duchene's third goal in three matches since missing six matches due to injury.
The islands scored a little more than 20 seconds later after giving by the Senator. McKenna played the piece behind his goal to the right and tried to send it along the right side board. However, Barzal got a chip in the left circle, passed to Bailey on the right side and he put it before McKenna could slide at 3:11.
Ceci restored the Senator's two-goal advantage just 3 minutes later with a fifth goal.
Lehner replaces Greiss after that and Ottawa doesn't score again.
NOTE: Ceci appeared in his 400th career game, becoming the fifth defender and the 19th player in the history of the franchise to reach that milestone. … Stone now has five goals and 11 points in 13 career matches against the Islanders … Duchene has 11 goals and 25 points in his last 18 matches. … Islanders F Jordan Eberle sat down due to illness. … Lehner was recruited by Ottawa in the second round of 2009, and went 30-36-13 in five seasons with the Senator.
Senator: Washington host on Saturday night
Islanders: In Toronto on Saturday night for the first fight against former captain John Tavares.