The Islanders have been in the headlines plenty the past week. For their fight-filled match against the Penguins Friday night. For the suspensions that followed. And for the griping from both sides about the league’s handling of the punishments.
Easily lost is that the Islanders have now rattled off a season-high four straight wins after Tuesday night’s 4-3 shootout victory over the Senators.
Nathan Lawson stopped two of three shots in the shootout and Rob Schremp and Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders to give Lawson his first NHL victory.
In the past three games, the Islanders have scored 19 goals, four more than they scored the whole month of November.
"It's big. Every game means a lot to us. It's nice when you get out of a tough game like this with a win," said Michael Grabner, who scored his 25th goal of the season.
The red-hot streak of Grabner, who picked up a goal and an assist, has played a big part in that run. Grabner scored in his sixth straight game to erase a one-goal deficit and Josh Bailey ended a lengthy drought to give the Islanders a lead in the third period.
With the Senators down two defensemen in the third — both Sergei Gonchar and former Islanders defenseman Chris Campoli suffered lower-body injuries — Grabner notched the equalizer shorthanded at 2:48.
After losing control of the puck on a breakaway, Grabner went back after it to bury a wraparound shot to tie the game at 2.
Grabner, who has eight goals in the past four games, then picked up an assist on Bailey’s go-ahead goal at 6:39. Making a no-look backhanded feed, Grabner found Bailey at the high slot for Bailey’s first goal in 22 games.
"I don't know what to say. I've never seen a guy this hot," Nielsen said. "I'm so happy for him. He competes so had every night and he's getting the results."
The Senators tied the game at 3 on Erik Karlsson’s slap shot from the right circle at 15:56. After Schremp went top shelf on Brian Elliott in the shootout, Nielsen abandoned his trusty backhander and went forehand instead.
"I think he knows he has to do that," Capuano said, smiling. "Peter Regin is one of his best friends on that team and he was probably telling Briant Elliott] that was his move."
"I saw Schrempy's shot from a great angle when I was out there and [Elliott] left a big hole there between his legs. I just tried to just catch him standing. It's probably good I switched it up."
After the Islanders missed on a pair of power-play opportunities in the first period, the Senators scored on their second man-advantage.
With Ty Wishart in the box for cross-checking, Bobby Butler’s shot from the right circle beat Lawson to take a 1-0 lead at 17:55 of the period.
On the Islanders’ first power play, they lost versatile defenseman Andrew MacDonald for most of the first period.
MacDonald and Chris Kelly collided near center ice, leaving both down after the play. MacDonald, who played 30:32 minutes against the Sabres Sunday, skated off the ice with help from teammates while holding a towel to his face.
MacDonald returned to the game wearing a full shield that belonged to fellow defenseman Bruno Gervais. Gervais was scratched.
Blake Comeau tied the game at 8:07 of the second but not without some controversy.
After taking teammate Jarkko Ruutu’s shot to the face, Chris Neil fell to the ice behind the Islanders’ net. Despite Neil writhing in pain, there was no stoppage in play. Comeau ripped off a sharp-angle shot at the other end, pulling the Islanders even.
After falling to Phoenix in the shootout in his NHL debut earlier this season, Lawson stopped both Jason Spezza and Butler for a win in his first game back from knee injury last month.
"It was an awesome win for the boys," Lawson said. "We came back, battled out there and showed our resilience to win in the shootout,"