OTTAWA – After ending their lengthy losing slide, the Ottawa Senators’ free fall resumed Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.
Frans Nielsen scored the deciding goal in the shootout and rookie Michael Grabner continued to hold the hot hand to lead the Islanders to a 4-3 victory.
Named the NHL’s first star for last week after recording eight goals in four games, including a hat trick in the Islanders’ win at Buffalo on Sunday, Grabner scored a short-handed goal and set up Josh Bailey’s first in 22 games in the third.
The loss was Ottawa’s 18th in 20 games.
“It’s a grind,”said Ryan Shannon, who scored on the power play for one of the Senators’goals in regulation time.
The Senators appeared to get the monkey off their back with a 5-3 win over Edmonton on Saturday. Or so Ottawa thought.
After Alex Kovalev beat Islanders goaltender Nathan Lawson on Ottawa’s first attempt in shootout, Jason Spezza and Bobby Butler were stopped. Rob Schremp and Frans Nielsen beat Brian Elliott at the other end to deny Ottawa’s shot at winning consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 23 and 26.
The Senators (18-30-9) fell to 0-9 when the game goes beyond regulation this year, including 0-4 in shootouts.
“It would be nice if we could win a shootout once in a while,”Spezza said.
Following the defeat, Ottawa dealt centre Chris Kelly to Boston for the Bruins’ second-round pick in this year’s draft. Kelly had 12 goals and 11 assists in 57 games this season.
Meanwhile, the Islanders (21-29-7) won their season-high fourth straight contest.
“That’s another big step for us because we did not have our best game and we found a way to get two points,”right-winger Kyle Okposo said.
And Grabner continued to lead the way for the Islanders.
“Every shift he’s out there, you notice him,”Lawson said.“He’s flying around and he always seems to get pucks in great areas.…It’s unbelievable.”
Blake Comeau had the other goal in regulation for the Islanders, who have won five of their last six.
Lawson, 27, made 28 saves to earn his first NHL victory. In his NHL debut on Dec. 18, he lost 4-3 to the Phoenix Coyotes but fared better this time.
“It’s great for Nathan, he gave us a chance to win,”Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.“He faced two pretty good shooters (in shootout—Kovalev and Spezza) and the third guy, Butler, has been on fire.”
Butler, also on the power play, and Erik Karlsson had the other goals in regulation for the Senators, who have one win in 13 games.
Elliott finished with 24 saves for Ottawa, which hasn’t won at home since Boxing Day.
In shootouts, he’s managed to stop just two-of-eight attempts against him. The Senators have also scored on just once of 11 tries.
The Senators lost a couple of defenceman in the second when Chris Campoli and Sergei Gonchar left with lower-body injuries and did not return. Their status was not immediately known.
Before the game, the Senators recalled right-winger Erik Condra from Binghamton of the AHL and the 24-year-old made his NHL debut, earning his first point on Karlsson’s tying goal late in regulation.
Ottawa opened the scoring late in the first on Butler’s second goal in as many games.
He snapped a rebound past Lawson during a Senators’ power play with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
The Islanders tied it under controversial circumstances near the midway point of the second.
Jarkko Ruutu’s shot from a sharp angle was wild and struck teammate Chris Neil. As Neil fell behind the Islanders goal and tried to get up and make his way to the bench, play continued up the other end and Comeau beat Elliott on a rebound.
Despite protests from Spezza and Ottawa head coach Cory Clouston, the goal stood.
The puck appeared to strike Neil in the chest, but he was OK and was back out later in the period.
Shannon restored the Senators’ lead less than five minutes later, beating Lawson with a shot from the point on the power play.
Grabner, who won the fastest skater competition during the skills challenge at last month’s all-star game, demonstrated his speed when he broke in alone on Elliott with the Islanders shorthanded early in the third.
Despite losing control of the puck and failing to get a shot off, he was quick enough to go into the corner and retrieve it before skating around Ottawa’s net and tucking the puck home after Elliott had overcommitted on the initial deke.
After Neil had a goal waved off when he tipped a point shot in with a high stick, Grabner set up Bailey to give the Islanders the lead at 6:39 of the third.
Then with just over four minutes remaining in regulation, Condra fed Karlsson in the high slot and he wired a shot into the top corner to tie the contest 3-3.
NOTES—Spezza picked up an assist on Butler’s goal to record his 500th career point in his 501st NHL game. … Islanders defenceman Andrew MacDonald took an accidental high stick from Kelly during a first-period collision and had to leave the game. He returned wearing a full facemask.