SENATORS 4, ISLANDERS 3
Yashin, lead vanish
He's benched after penalty as Isles again give up two-goal edge
BY ALAN HAHN
December 31, 2005
KANATA, Ont. - Please stop us if you've heard this one before. The
Islanders held a two-goal lead and watched it disappear - along with
its captain, Alexei Yashin - during another frustrating defeat.
Really. It happened again.
For the third straight game, the Islanders held a two-goal
advantage, this time a 3-1 lead, only to lose, 4-3, to the Ottawa
Senators Friday night at the Corel Centre. Bryan Smolinski got ahead
of Miroslav Satan in the neutral zone and split the defense for a
break-in that beat goalie Garth Snow with 1:46 left in regulation to
send the Islanders to their fourth straight defeat.
Coach Steve Stirling benched Yashin for the final 16:11 of the game
for taking a costly penalty that resulted in the game-tying power-
play goal for Ottawa. "It was lazy, sloppy and just coming off an
awful power play," Stirling said. "Anything more I have to say?"
Stirling also made defenseman Brad Lukowich, an alternate captain, a
healthy scratch because, he said, "I made a decision it was time for
a change and he was the odd man out." Also out was goalie Rick
DiPietro, but not by choice. He had to be helped off the ice 6:29
into the game when he injured his left knee during a scramble in the
crease as Daniel Alfredsson scored the Senators' first goal.
Smolinski fell on top of DiPietro's extended leg during a battle with
Islanders defenseman Alexei Zhitnik.
"It didn't look good coming off, but the early report was it wasn't
too-too bad," Stirling said of DiPietro's injury. "But I haven't
gotten a report since then."
Snow relieved and was solid, including a save on a penalty shot by
Peter Schaefer with 38.2 seconds left in the first period when the
Islanders held a 2-1 lead.
It was 3-1 after Jason Blake's shorthanded goal at 7:45 of the
second, but Ottawa got one back before the period ended when Dany
Heatley scored at 18:21 to make it 3-2. The goal was the result of a
miscommunication. Defenseman Brent Sopel tried a soft outlet to Blake
instead of a hard clear and it was picked off by defenseman Anton
Volchenkov, who fed Heatley for the score.
The Islanders had a four-minute power play that bridged the second
and third periods, but there was little communication and flow. "The
power play was inept," Stirling said. "It didn't work hard enough."
Yashin was caught on a long shift and had been battered by 6-9
defenseman Zdeno Chara along the wall when he made an ill-advised
hook to stop a rush the other way. Schaefer scored on the ensuing
power play at 4:06 of the third to tie it at 3. Yashin's night was
over, though in his mind he felt he was trying to stop a scoring
"I tried to stop him; that's why I took the penalty," he said. "It's
not like I wanted to take a penalty or do something stupid, like I
don't care at all . . . I'm very upset. It's not because I got
benched. It's because the situation was I tried to stop the play.
"It's my team," Yashin then said. "I will take the blame anytime."
Notes & quotes: Zhitnik was lost early in the second period when he
injured his tailbone in a fall . . . Ottawa lost Alfredsson, the team
captain, for at least a week with a cracked rib suffered when a shot
by Chara hit him . . . The Islanders were joined on the ice during
the national anthems by the two Chinese teams, Harbin and Qi Qihar,
that participated in the Bell Classic youth hockey tournament
here . . . The Islanders ended the month of December at 5-6-1 and are
under .500 (17-18-2) for the first time since Nov. 12.