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Islanders rally, beat Senators in shootout

by Sean Farrell

OTTAWA -- The New York Islanders gave Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner all the shots he could handle, plus one more that he couldn't.

Frans Nielsen scored the tying goal early in the third period and the winner in the shootout to give New York a 5-4 victory against Ottawa on Friday.

Nielsen deked Lehner to score on the Islanders' second attempt in the tiebreaker. He tied it at 4-4 with his eighth goal at 3:14 of the third after the Senators had killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 New York power play that carried over from the end of the second period.

John Tavares, Matt Martin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored for Islanders in the second, when New York outshot Ottawa 25-9. The Islanders, who ended a two-game losing streak, outshot Ottawa 57-31, marking the third time this season the Senators have allowed 50 or more shots in a game.

"We played very well the first five minutes of the game, I think, and then they took over," said Lehner, who made a team-record 53 saves in his third start of the season. "They were very fast. They played with speed, they moved the puck, they shot a lot of pucks -- they had a good road game. They were in front of the net a lot and they took it to us.

"We were able to come back and get ahead, and then they took over the momentum for some reason. It was a weird game."

Lehner, who was unable to hold 2-0 and 4-2 leads, started for the first time since stopping 18 shots in a 3-1 loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 19.

That was by far his lightest workload to date. The 22-year-old Swede stopped 47 of 50 shots in his other start, a 3-2 road loss against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 12. He turned aside 45 of 47 one night later after replacing starter Craig Anderson early in a 4-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks.

"Every time Robin plays, he's busy, but that's good," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "He's a big guy and he can keep playing and I thought he was real solid in the net tonight. He gave his teammates an opportunity and I thought he really competed."

Lehner stopped Thomas Vanek on a breakaway in overtime. He also kept the game scoreless midway through the first when he denied Michael Grabner on a shorthanded breakaway, but was beaten by Nielsen's forehand in the shootout.

"He did play well," Nielsen said. "I think in the first period we shot a lot but I think he saw it all. The last two periods we started to get in front of him so he gave some more rebounds and we got some easy goals too, going off guys, so it was a nice win and good to see we can still play like this."

Evgeni Nabokov, playing for the 11th time in New York's first 13 games, stopped 27 shots through 65 minutes and denied all three attempts in the shootout, ending the game by getting his left pad down to stop Bobby Ryan.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano wants to see the effort his team showed against Ottawa carry over into Saturday's home game against the Boston Bruins. He pointed out that his team dropped two in a row at home after a 4-3 road win against the Pittsburgh Penguins last Friday.

"It's a situation where when we play the way we know how to play, we have success, but now you have to respond against a good Bruins team [Saturday] night," Capuano said. "You have to be consistent on how you play and you have to do the little things, and I thought tonight our puck management was much better. We played high percentage hockey and that's the way that we have to continue to play."

Vanek played his 600th regular-season game, his second with the Islanders since he was acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. He earned his first point with the Islanders with a brilliant feed that set up Tavares' goal at 9:07 of the middle period, which drew New York within 2-1.

"It was a great pass to recognize I was going to the net and get it by their defender," Tavares said. "I just had the easy part, obviously, so it was nice to get rewarded for it and finally put one in and kind of break the seal there. It kind of opened up the floodgates there and we got another one right away. It was a big point in the game for us and we had to battle back from two down twice and it was good character showing for us to be able to do something like that."

Martin scored on a deflection 28 seconds later to draw the Islanders even.

Ryan put Ottawa back on top at 12:34 with his seventh goal of the season and 300th career point, then assisted on Clarke MacArthur's first goal of the season, a wraparound inside the right post at 14:47 that put Ottawa up 4-2. The play was called a goal on the ice and confirmed after video review.

Bouchard brought the Islanders back within one with his second goal of the season at 18:24.

The Islanders outshot the Senators 18-9 in the opening period, but Erik Condra and Mika Zibanejad scored on Ottawa's last two shots to give the Senators a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Rookie center Derek Grant earned his first NHL assist on Condra's goal at 18:38. Grant got his stick on New York defenseman Andrew MacDonald's clearing attempt, slowing the puck just enough for Condra to jump up and intercept it inside the Islanders' blue line. Condra moved in and fired between Nabokov's legs for his first goal of the season, before going to the dressing room. He returned for the second period and played two shifts before leaving the game because of a muscle strain in his right leg and did not return.

Zibanejad made it 2-0 lead with 19.6 seconds left. Nabokov ducked under Zibanejad's slap shot from the top of the right circle and the puck struck the glove over his head and trickled behind him into the net.

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