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Islanders snap 11-game losing streak with win over Ottawa

Islanders' Anders Lee (27) celebrates a goal against

Islanders' Anders Lee (27) celebrates a goal against the Ottawa Senators during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Ottawa. Credit: AP/Justin Tang

At long last – a month and a day long – a victory.

The Islanders, still recovering from a COVID-19 outbreak and missing the injured Ryan Pulock and Brock Nelson, snapped an 11-game losing streak while extending their point streak to four games with a 5-3 win over the Senators on Tuesday night at Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre.

It marked their first win since a 2-0 victory at Winnipeg on Nov. 6 and their most goals since a 6-2 win at Montreal two nights before that.

"It’s a sense of relief," said captain Anders Lee, who scored two of the Islanders’ three, second-period goals. "It’s been a tough stretch. We started to build our game a little bit the last few nights."

Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves for the last-place Islanders (6-10-5). They had lost a 3-2 shootout to Chicago on Sunday night at UBS Arena after two straight overtime losses and coach Barry Trotz had accentuated the positive sign of starting to accumulate points.

"It feels good," coach Barry Trotz said. "It’s incredible to think what we’ve gone through this last month. I’ve never gone through it. These guys have never gone through it. Finally, they got rewarded. It felt good after the game to have a little life in the dressing room, music blaring and guys ribbing each other."

"It’s hard mentally, we all want to win every night," said Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the ex-Senator who grew up in Ottawa and gave the Islanders a 5-2 lead by winning an offensive-zone draw and getting to the crease at 12:26 of the third period with the teams skating four-on-four. "When things don’t go our way, we’ve really got to come back to the basics."

A good part of that was getting to the crease. Four of the Islanders’ five goals came from in tight and the fifth – Kieffer Bellows’ first goal of the season to make it 4-1 at 6:26 of the third period – came from low in the left circle.

Trotz kept his lineup intact from Sunday – other than starting Sorokin –meaning Matt Martin again sat in favor of burly Ross Johnston.

Lee opened the scoring at 3:00 of the second period, not connecting on a forehand shot at the crease but regaining the puck and sliding it past Filip Gustavsson (22 saves) on the backhand. Lee then looked skyward in relief after snapping a six-game point drought.

"That’s a subconscious move there," Lee said. "We needed a bounce. I got one off the back wall. It doesn’t matter how they go in. It doesn’t matter how we win the game. In this stretch right now, we just needed to get two points and we got it. So, yeah, there’s probably definitely a natural sigh of relief there.

"This group takes a lot of pride in how we play and how we perform. This was a shock to us. Very tough mentally to grind out. There’s times where it feels like it’s never going to go your way and the only way to get out of something like this is sticking together. We broke through tonight. Now we can put this stretch behind us and really start to build off of it."

Lee, at the left post, made it 3-1 just 27 seconds after Oliver Wahlstrom’s backhander at the crease gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 14:06 of the second period.

The Senators (7-16-1), who had their three-game winning streak snapped after a 3-2 shootout win at New Jersey on Monday night, came within 5-3 at 15:54 of the third period on Alex Formenton’s shorthanded goal. It’s the fourth shorthanded goal the Islanders have allowed.

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