The New York Islanders capped off a doubleheader sweep of the Ottawa Senators with a 3-2 comeback win Monday night at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Cal Clutterbuck scored the shootout-deciding goal in the fifth round, as the Islanders overcame an early two-goal deficit in the second game of their split-squad series with the Sens.
“Once we realized how we had to play we started to have some success,” Capuano said of his team’s turnaround. “There’s a difference between playing fast and a little bit of puck possession and I thought we did a bit of both. We started to get pucks in and grinded them out.”
Clutterbuck’s game decider, coupled with a strong game from goaltender Kevin Poulin and goals from Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Bailey, propelled the Islanders to the comeback win.
Poulin was rock solid in the second half for the Islanders, stopping every shot he faced in regulation, while also turning aside four-of-five attempts in the shootout. Poulin’s best save came off Clarke MacArthur on a shorthanded breakaway early in the third period to preserve a 2-2 tie.
“I worked really hard all summer,” Poulin said. “I worked my butt off all summer and I’m here to play well,” said Poulin.
Capuano said Poulin was one of the team’s best players after the game and also singled out Grabovski, who had a goal and an assist in his Islanders preseason debut to earn First Star honors.
Overall, in both games, our guys played hard, especially on three days of practice. - Head Coach Jack Capuano
Grabovski put the Islanders on the board 3:10 into the second period, streaking through the slot behind a defenseman and corralling a slick pass from Cory Conacher before beating Craig Anderson. Nikolay Kulemin started the play in the Islanders’ zone and picked up the secondary assist.
“I enjoyed tonight because it was a great atmosphere and a great chance to play with my new linemates,” Grabovski said.
Grabovski also assisted on Josh Bailey’s game-tying goal late in the second period. The 29-year-old Belarusian gained the zone with Bailey on a two-on-one and Bailey snapped a shot along the ice and past Senators goalie Robin Lehner.
The second-period rally erased an early two-goal hole for the Islanders, as the Senators scored two power-play markers in the opening 13 minutes. MacArthur had opened the scoring off a one-timer 5:12 into the game and Curtis Lazar corralled and converted a misplayed puck, putting the Senators up by two.
“Any time you get offensive-zone penalties, it’s not great discipline,” Capuano said. “But overall, in both games, our guys played hard, especially on three days of practice. Both teams played hard and we were fortunate to come out with the win.”
The Islanders head back to Long Island 2-0-0 in the preseason and host the Carolina Hurricanes at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.