Rob Schremp scored twice while Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner each added a goal and an assist to lead the Isles to a 5-3 win over the slumping Ottawa Senators at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday night.
For the second game in a row, the Islanders saw their goalie get involved in some rough stuff. It came as the teams were leaving the ice after the conclusion of the second period with the game tied at 3-3. Senators goalie Robin Lehner skated past Isles goalie Kevin Poulin and knocked him down with a hard elbow that almost led to a major brawl. Unlike Rick DiPietro on Wednesday night, Poulin didn’t engage in fisticuffs and drew a key penalty that gave the Islanders a 5-on-3 power play to start the third period. Schremp scored the game winning goal at the 1:39 mark of the third during the ensuing power play.
After the game, Lehner accused Poulin of starting the incident and denied throwing an elbow.
“When I go off, their goalie was obviously upset and had some things to say to me,” Lehner said. “He came towards me. I won’t back down. That’s just the way I am…I put my shoulder into him and he falls easily on his back. It wasn’t an elbow, that’s for sure.”
“I didn’t say anything,” Poulin said. “I did my job and I stayed composed. He gave me the shoulder and a push and I was surprised and fell backward. We scored on the power play after that. It’s perfect. I’m happy.”
Schremp was pleased Lehner’s penalty led to the game winner. “It was nice to capitalize on that penalty. It was a bad penalty for their goalie to take and it was good to make him pay for it.” He described the elbow as “kind of childish” and added, “We used to do that in Pee Wees when we were pouting but I didn’t think it was really necessary.”
The first period was wide open with each team scoring three goals before intermission. Matt Moulson opened the scoring by putting home the rebound of a Jack Hillen shot at 4:10 but Chris Neil scored just 13 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1.
After Michael Grabner put the Isles up 2-1, goals by Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev gave Ottawa their only lead of the game with 2:49 left in the first period. The lead lasted only 17 seconds, however when Schremp beat Senators starter Brian Elliott to tie the game at 3-3.
Ottawa pulled Elliott after the first period while Isles Coach Jack Capuano stayed with Poulin despite the fact that the rookie goalie had allowed three goals on just six shots to that point. Poulin stopped the final 17 by the Senators and made 20 saves overall to earn the win.
“I had a lot of confidence in him,” Capuano said. “It [changing goalies] didn’t cross my mind one bit. He’s always been a competitor. He came out in the second and third and battled hard, and gave us a chance to win the game, especially late on that power play.”
The Senators pulled Lehner in the final minute and put a lot of pressure on the Islander net but a key blocked shot by defenseman Travis Hamonic saved the potential tying goal and set up Nielsen’s empty netter with nine seconds left.
“Spezza was on the side of the net and Poul [Poulin] was looking the other way and kind of pushed over,” Hamonic explained. “I saw the puck bouncing around Spezza’s stick so I got my foot in front of it, blocked it and then sort of chipped it up to Fransie.”
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Nassau Coliseum.
Rookie defenseman Ty Wishart, acquired in the Dwayne Roloson trade, made his Islanders debut tonight and had two assists in 15:20 of ice time. He was also credited with three hits and a blocked shot. Wishart replaced Bruno Gervais who was out with an upper body injury.
Rick DiPietro (injured facial bones and sore knee) and Blake Comeau (concussion) were the other Isles scratches. DP is out 4-6 weeks while there is no set timetable for Comeau’s return.
Matt Carkner and Jarkko Ruutu were the Ottawa scratches.
Milan Jurcina played for the first time since January 17th. He played 20:34 and was a plus-one on the night. He was credited with two hits.
Ex-Islander Chris Campoli had two assists for Ottawa.