OTTAWA – Don’t panic, it’s just pre-season.
That was the message from the Ottawa Senators, even if a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders in their final pre-season game showed they still have work to do.
“Obviously we were bad, especially in the first two (periods),” said defenceman Marc Methot on Sunday.
“The one upside I thought was that we actually turned it up in the third period and played a lot better, but it’s pre-season, half our squad is missing so you can only take so much from that.”
It was a rough night all around for the Senators as the other half of the team was beat 5-2 by the Islanders in Barrie, Ont.
Riley Wetmore, Ryan Strome, Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov allowed one goal on 15 shots through two periods and Ken Reiter faced 11 shots in the third.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the lone Ottawa goal as Craig Anderson faced 23 shots.
Head coach Paul MacLean was far from impressed by his team’s performance and said it “left a sour taste in our mouth.”
While there was little to take from the game MacLean felt there was a valuable lesson to be learned.
“This is a hard league and if you don’t come prepared to play and work any team in this league can beat you,” said MacLean. “That team that played us flat outworked us in every area of the game and deserved to win and that should give us a real good wake-up call going into next week.”
While players didn’t want to make excuses, they admitted knowing it was the last game of the pre-season may have played a part in their poor showing.
“You want to end pre-season on a good note and feel good about yourselves and you certainly can’t after that performance and the way the 20 guys played out there, but at the end of the day it didn’t cost us any points,” said Bobby Ryan. “(Friday) can’t come soon enough. It’s a long camp.”
The Senators seemed to struggle right from the start.
Wetmore opened the scoring 16:48 into the first period. Anderson made the stop on Kirill Kabanov’s wraparound, but Wetmore buried the rebound. Less than a minute later Strome put the Isles ahead 2-0.
The Islanders made it 3-0 in the second on Pulock’s power-play goal as he beat a screened Anderson. Nelson’s goal just over three minutes later left MacLean fuming as he lit into his team during a commercial break.
Shortly after the Senators showed some life as Pageau took a great pass from Cody Ceci to get on the board.
Ottawa finally managed to create some chances in the third, but Reiter was solid in relief of Nabokov.
The Senators will take Monday off and hit the ice Tuesday with the 22 or 23 players they expect to start the season with on Friday when they visit on the Buffalo Sabres.
Notes: Ottawa captain Jason Spezza remains sidelined with a mild groin sprain. D Eric Gryba played his first game of the pre-season.