Seventh-place Ottawa moved to within a point of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and sit just two points short of New Jersey as the East standings continue to tighten. The Isles missed a chance to top the .500 mark for the first time since October.
High-scoring defenseman Erik Karlsson scored two goals and recorded four points and Craig Anderson stopped all 28 shots he faced, leading the Ottawa Senators to a 6-0 shellacking of the New York Islanders Monday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. The victory gives Ottawa 70 points, one shy of the idle fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers and sixth-place Pittsburgh Penguins, and just two shy of the New Jersey Devils and Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference standings -- although all of those clubs hold games in hand on the Senators.
The streaky Senators have won three consecutive games and are 4-0-1 in their last five, following a disastrous seven-game losing streak (0-6-1) that threatened their postseason hopes.
New York missed a big opportunity to inch closer to a playoff spot, as the team appeared to be finally gelling with a 6-3-1 stretch heading into the matinee contest. Though currently in 12th place in the East, a win would have brought them within four points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for eighth and the conference's final postseason position. The Isles also missed a chance to top the .500 mark for the first time since October.
Karlsson leads all NHL blueliners with 45 assists and 57 points and continued with what has been a fantastic, Norris Trophy-caliber season by scoring two of Ottawa's three first-period markers, then picking up two helpers in the third. One of the game's brightest rising stars, the 21-year-old rear guard now has a four-game point streak, registering four goals, nine points, and a +7 rating over the course of the quartet of contests.
While Karlsson has been providing plenty of offense from the back line by himself, he had plenty of help against the Isles, as four of the six Sens goals came from defensemen. Chris Phillips scored his third of the year on the power play in the second period, and Brian Lee tallied his first of the season midway through the third to break a 99-game goal-scoring drought. Sergei Gonchar added two assists from the blueline.
Jason Spezza scored his 26th and 27th of the year to give him a six-game point-scoring streak, during which he has picked up seven goals and 15 points to climb the ranks of the NHL scoring leaders. Spezza currently sits fourth, just five points behind Evgeni Malkin for the top spot. Both of Spezza's tallies came from the left hash mark.
As Anderson goes, so go the Senators, and he's taking them in the right direction. After undergoing a horrific personal stretch in which he dropped eight straight decisions (0-6-2), the 30-year-old netminder has now won his last three starts, including two via the shutout route. Anderson improved his season record to 28-19-6 with three shutouts.
Anderson had little work over the first two periods as Ottawa outshot the home team by a 28-10 count and built a 4-0 lead. Even though the Islanders dominated the shot totals in the third period, 18-5, it was the Senators who dented the twine twice while Anderson held the Isles at bay.
The Sens were able to beat New York starter Kevin Poulin twice in the opening 1:35 of the contest, chasing the 21-year-old in favor of Al Montoya. Poulin gave up the two goals on five shots, while Montoya yielded four goals in 27 Ottawa offerings. Poulin, who gave up a goal to Karlsson from an impossible angle from the right wing corner along the goal line that banked in off the goaltender's right pad and in, took the loss to drop his record to 2-3-0 for the season.