OTTAWA – There has been very little room for error for the Ottawa Senators over the past couple of weeks, but now, there is none.
Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist as the New York Islanders earned a 2-1 win over Ottawa Wednesday, leaving the Senators five points out of a playoff spot with just five games to play and four teams ahead of them.
“We knew they were a desperate team and we knew it was going to be a tough game.” Bailey said. “They came at us pretty hard.”
Bailey scored a power-play goal in the first period, and assisted on the winning goal from Casey Cizikas midway through the third, when he outwaited Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and slid the puck into the crease from behind the goal-line for Cizikas.
The win was the third straight and fifth in six games for the Islanders (31-35-10), who were helped by a 35-save performance from rookie Anders Nilsson.
Ryan Strome chipped in with two assists.
Milan Michalek scored the lone goal for the Senators (32-30-14), on the power play 6:41 into the third period to tie the game 1-1.
That goal game exactly 110 minutes after the last Senators’ goal, with the exception of a shoot-out goal in Monday’s 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Michalek was at the side of the Islanders goal when he jammed a loose puck past Nilsson with four bodies lying in the crease.
“I thought I had a glove on it but it’s tough. It was so fast and it was tough for me to know and tough for the ref to see,” Nilsson said of the goal. “Those goals happen. They did a good job crashing the net and the puck came loose so credit to them.
“We battled hard and everyone stuck up for each other. Everybody is doing a hell of a job and battling hard and that’s why we keep on winning.”
The loss snapped a three game winning streak for the Senators. They had also recorded points in five straight games going into Wednesday.
“We didn’t score goals and you’re not going to win hockey games when you don’t score goals,” Senators defenceman Marc Methot said.
“It’s deflating, for sure. It’s funny because I thought we played pretty good hockey. We just couldn’t bury it when we had opportunities and it sucks in terms of the atmosphere in the room. We were riding a pretty nice high despite our situation in the standings.
“When you’re stringing together wins at any point in the season it feels good so we’re going to keep rolling and keep trying to get wins.”
Bailey had the only goal through 40 minutes of play, beating Anderson with a snap shot from the face-off circle 17 minutes into the first period.
“We played a really solid game five-on-five and the difference was special teams,” said Anderson, who finished with 25 saves.
“That’s the way this game is and some nights, you’re going to generate lots of opportunities on the power play and some nights you’re not. That was the difference-maker tonight.”
The Senators had managed to kill off a 34 second five-on-three disadvantage but were unable to escape the back end of the two penalties unscathed.
It wasn’t the only opportunity on special teams for the Islanders, either. Cal Clutterbuck was unable to cash in on three short-handed opportunities.
Clutterbuck was stopped by Anderson on a short-handed breakaway early in the first period, and later in the period, with an open net to shoot at, he slid the puck through the crease and along the goal-line.
Clutterbuck had another short-handed breakaway, this time in the dying seconds of the third period, but his shot sailed over the Ottawa net.
Notes: Defenceman Jared Cowen and forwards Bobby Ryan, Jason Spezza and Colin Greening are all injured and did not play Wednesday for the Senators. Defencemen Radek Martinek, Lubomir Vishnovsky and Brian Strait and forwards Kyle Okposo, Eric Boulton and Michael Grabner did not play for the Islanders…The Senators have not won five straight this season…The Senators close out a five-game homestand Friday when the host the Montreal Canadiens…The Islanders are 13-4-2 in their past 20 road games…Wednesday was the 400th game of Bailey’s career.