The New York Islanders won their third straight game with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, while gaining some valuable experience in the process.
The usually high-flying Islanders earned a defensive win over the Senators, thanks in large part to a 31-save effort from goalie Jaroslav Halak. The Islanders, who've relied on their firepower to win six of their last seven games, clamped down defensively Saturday, beating a defensive-minded Senators team at their own game.
"You watch hockey coming down the stretch, you're not always going to win 5-4," said Jordan Eberle, who scored the eventual winner with 5:50 to play in the third. "You get into the tight games and have to learn to win that way, so we were able to hang on there and that's a big two points."
Video: NYI@OTT: Eberle doubles the lead with nice backhander
Eberle's goal, a nifty backhand set up by Nick Leddy after Mathew Barzal skated the puck around the Senator's zone, put the Islanders ahead 2-0 late in the third. After that, Ottawa came alive, peppering the Islanders in the final five minutes. Matt Duchene's first goal as an Senator - a power-play goal - invigorated Ottawa, but Halak and the Islanders withstood the siege down the stretch.
It was a good experience for the Islanders, who hadn't held a team to one goal against since a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 14.
"We held on really well," said Anders Lee, who deflected a power-play goal past Craig Anderson (22 saves) in the second period. "We haven't really seen a 1-0, 2-0 game tight till the end all year really, so always nice to win the tight ones and know at any point and any time a team will put a push at the end of a game that we can withstand their pressure and get the win."
Video: NYI@OTT: Halak denies Brassard, Ryan late in 3rd
Halak looked sharp from the drop of the puck, reading plays and controlling his rebounds. He came up big when the Isles needed him most, turning aside a point-blank chance on Derick Brassard in the final minute of the game with the Senators pressing.
"At this point I'll take any win," Halak said of his first win since Oct. 30. "It's a big win for our team on a back-to-back."
Saturday's game was also defined by special teams. The Islanders and Senators each scored a power-play goal, as the Isles went 1-for-5 with the man advantage, while Ottawa went 1-for-6. Lee's 12th of the year marked the sixth straight game with a power-play goal for the Islanders, who are 7-for-25 over that stretch.
Video: NYI@OTT: Bailey bangs home quick slapper for PPG
CIZIKAS LEAVES GAME:
The Islanders didn't come away unscathed in Saturday's win. Casey Cizkas left Saturday's game with an lower-body injury on Saturday. Cizikas crashed hard into the end boards in the second period, played one more shift, but did not come back for the third period.
The Islanders return home to face the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.