UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Islanders ended their home schedule on a sour note Tuesday night.
The Ottawa Senators scored three goals in the third period to defeat the Isles 4-1 in front of a crowd of 12,922 at Nassau Coliseum. Jason Spezza scored back-to-back goals and Alex Hemsky scored the game winner for the Senators. Matt Kassian’s empty net goal sealed the victory for Ottawa.
“I thought our kids battled,” Islander Coach Jack Capuano said. “The most skilled team won the game tonight. There’s no question. A highly skilled team that caught our D flat footed on a couple goals there. Spezza is a world class player obviously and Hempsky. We had our chances, but I thought we were pretty structured. I thought our kids worked hard.”
The game was a scoreless draw for the first 32:45 of the game before Spezza scored his first goal of the contest. His shot from the top of the left circle made it past Anders Nilsson and into the net to put Ottawa up 1-0. The Islanders responded in the opening minute of the third period. Frans Nielsen put home a rebound shot to even the game at one 22 seconds into the period.
Nilsson played well after the tying goal and kept the Senators at bay, but at 12:45 Spezza struck again. A quick wrist shot from the Ottawa captain made it under the crossbar to put his team up 2-1. Hempsky scored roughly two minutes later on an impressive play that saw him wiz past the Islanders defense and beat Nilsson.
An empty net goal in the final minute sealed the 4-1 victory.
The loss was the 19th time the Islanders lost at home this season and marks the fourth straight year they have finished below .500 at Nassau Coliseum. It’s not something that the players in the locker room are happy about, and they want the fans to know that.
“We’ve got some of the best fans in the league,” Travis Hamonic said. “We want to be able to win here first of all for each other. For the organization, for the fans, for Long Island. We want to win here. It’s a fun place to win games and the crowd gets behind you. We’ve got loyal fans and it would be nice to have some better efforts here at home.”
The Islanders realized that this season has not turned out the way they or the fanbase had hoped it would.
“Last year we took a step in the right direction, but this year we went back the other way,” Matt Martin said. “We have to get back on track, but [the fans] stuck with us this year. My first few years here there wouldn’t be people in the stands tonight and there have been a lot of people in the seats this whole season. We’re grateful for that.”
The Islanders have three games remaining in the 2013-14 season. On Thursday they take on the Montreal Candians, followed by a trip to Newark on Friday and wrapping it all up on Sunday in Buffalo against the Sabres.