The Ottawa Senators keep losing players and winning games.
Ottawa's forecheckers dominated the Islanders for nearly a minute before Gonchar blasted a slap shot from the high slot that went through a screen and past Evgeni Nabokov for his second goal of the season. The play that resulted in the winning goal was allowed to continue, although Ottawa's Jakob Silfverberg appeared to have been the first player to touch the puck after Senators' forward Mika Zibanejad played it with a high stick.
"The game-winning goal they got should have been a whistle," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It was a high stick and Ottawa touched it first."
Guillaume Latendresse hit the empty net in the final 10 seconds to give the Senators their third straight win.
"It wasn't surprising. We've done it before," said Gonchar, who was plus-5 in 25:44 of ice time.
Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson assisted on Latendresse's goal for his 1,100th NHL point.
"I didn't know until I got into the room. It feels good -- coming in a win like this makes it nicer," he said.
The Islanders, who got goals from Keith Aucoin, Josh Bailey and Lubomir Visnovsky, have allowed an NHL-high 44 goals in the third period. The Islanders continue to have problems closing out opponents, and Capuano wasn't happy with his team's latest third-period collapse.
“This is a tough game,” Capuano said. “Nothing that's easy is worth having. You have to battle in all areas. You have to put individual success aside. That will come with the team's success. We're the type of team that needs all 20 guys going for us to be successful. That's the way we're built. We had some guys on the back end tonight that I thought struggled a little bit. We all struggled at certain areas tonight, but we've just got to battle back.”
The Senators, already without Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson and Milan Michalek, lost defenseman Mark Methot to a lower-body injury in the first period and trailed 3-1 after 40 minutes. But they tied the game by scoring twice in 68 seconds early in the third period.
"We're going to take our time and evaluate the injury and we'll have a time frame in further notice," Senators coach Paul MacLean said of Methot's injury.
Silfverberg deflected Peter Wiercioch's slapper past Nabokov at 1:07 following an Islander giveaway. Zach Smith tied it at 2:15 when he picked up a deflected shot after Sergei Gonchar broke his stick on a right-point slap shot, whirled in the right circle and beat Nabokov.
"Leadership is character," MacLean said. "Coming back in this League isn't easy, but we find a way to do it."
The Islanders appeared to have gone back in front at 7:22 when the puck went into the net off Aucoin's skate. But a video review determined that Aucoin had directed the puck into the net with a kicking motion, and the goal was waved off.
"I didn't see it as a distinct kicking motion," Aucoin said. "I was going to the net hard and I had to stop. There's nothing you can do. The ref called it a goal on the ice, and when they were reviewing it [in Toronto], I didn't think there was any doubt it would be a goal."
Instead, the Senators found a way to earn another improbable victory; they are fifth in the Eastern Conference with 38 points.
"We definitely didn't have our best first two periods, but we've got great leadership in here," goaltender Ben Bishop said. "There's not one guy in here who is going to quit."
The Islanders dominated the early going, but the Senators grabbed the lead at 6:23 when Gonchar's innocent-looking shot from the right point was deflected out of the air by Matt Kassian and bounced through Nabokov's legs. It was Kassian's first goal since being acquired by Ottawa from Minnesota earlier this month and just the third of his career. Gonchar's helper extended his assist streak to eight games.
New York generated little on a pair of first-period power plays, but the Islanders tied it at 17:53 during a line change. Kyle Okposo carried down the left wing and pulled up behind the net before finding Aucoin, who had just jumped on the ice, coming through the slot. Aucoin took a step to the right and beat Bishop through the five-hole for his fifth of the season and first since Jan. 31.
The Islanders wasted no time grabbing the lead in the second period. After a neutral-zone turnover, Okposo carried into the Ottawa zone and slid a pass that sprung Bailey behind the defense. Bailey swept in front and beat Bishop with a backhander just 14 seconds after the opening faceoff for his third goal of the season.
Bishop kept the Senators within a goal 80 seconds later when he robbed Mark Streit on a backdoor one-timer during a power play. But he had no chance on a similar play midway through the period when Visnovsky snuck down from the right point and tapped in Matt Moulson's cross-crease pass at 11:49 for a power-play goal after Kassian took a needless roughing penalty. It was his second goal of the season.
But it all came apart again for the Islanders in the final 20 minutes.
"I don't think you can sit back with a two-goal lead in the third period," Aucoin said. "You have to do what you were doing to be successful. You have to get pucks in deep, and we didn't do that."
Material from team media was used in this report.