During a break in the Islanders' morning skate Thursday, Zenon Konopka stood up and called out a television reporter in the stands at Nassau Coliseum.
"Stop calling us a doormat!" Konopka yelled, referencing the station's words about the Islanders in its Wednesday morning broadcast. "We're not a doormat anymore!"
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Just hours after Konopka took exception to that description, however, the Islanders did little to combat that notion in the first two periods of last night's game against Ottawa.
Rookie goaltender Robin Lehner and the struggling Senators walked all over the Islanders in the first 40 minutes. And although the Islanders rallied with two goals in the third, it wasn't enough. The Senators earned a 6-4 win to end their winless streak at six games.
The night's biggest disappointment? "Obviously the effort," Islanders coach Jack Capuano replied. "We switched goalies and they didn't get any help tonight. We took two periods off."
Kevin Poulin was yanked midway through the first period, but the 20-year-old rookie returned in the third after backup Nathan Lawson gave up four goals in the second.
Despite Poulin's quick hook after he surrendered two goals in the first 9:50, the Islanders escaped the first period with a manageable 2-1 deficit. But they didn't fare much better with Lawson in goal. The 27-year-old netminder, who was called up from Bridgeport when veteran Dwayne Roloson was traded to Tampa Bay earlier this month, gave up four goals in the second.
"It was a letdown," Blake Comeau said of the team's performance.
On the second of two disorganized power plays for the Islanders, Milan Michalek scored a shorthanded goal on an odd-man rush. Then, 20 seconds after Comeau scored to pull the Islanders within a goal, Chris Kelly stickhandled past John Tavares to rip a shot for a 4-2 lead at 10:51.
Ottawa piled on with two more goals before the period was over, the first of which was a real dagger.
After his first shot bounced back to him, Nick Foligno tried again, this time deflecting it off Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald's stick in front of the net at 13:01. MacDonald took a couple of futile chops with his stick to prevent the puck from sputtering in. Zack Smith's wrister at 14:27 gave Ottawa a 6-2 lead.
Defenseman Milan Jurcina scored a goal and added an assist on PA Parenteau's deflection as the Islanders scored twice in the third.
"We can't get in a hole early," Jurcina said. "It's too hard to get ourselves out."
"You can't take a shift off in this league," said enforcer Trevor Gillies, who scored his first NHL goal in the first period. "Teams are too good."
Poulin denied all 11 shots in the third. He said he took no issue with Capuano's decision to pull him in the first. "I wasn't angry [at Capuano]," Poulin said. "I was just mad at myself."
Capuano said he did not regret the decision. "Just a gut feeling," he said. "You can look back at whether it was the right move or wrong move, but coaches have to go with their gut feeling."