NEW YORK — After a sluggish start in their first game out of the Christmas break, the New York Islanders picked up their intensity in the latter part of the second period and then steamrolled the Ottawa Senators in the third.
Mathew Barzal had two goals and an assist to help the Islanders rally for a 6-3 win over the Senators on Friday night for their fifth win in six games. Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas also scored for New York, which came back from a pair of two-goal deficits.
"A little bit of that hangover from the break," Lee said. "You could tell we were weak in some areas, mentally and physically. Once we engaged a little bit and figured it out, we really played a hard game and were able to take it over."
Thomas Greiss gave up three goals on 17 shots before he was pulled 6:11 into the second period. Robin Lehner, who began his career with Ottawa, came on and stopped all 10 shots he faced to improve to 7-0-3 against his former team.
"Just a couple of missed assignments," Barzal said of the Senators' early goals. "Greisser has been a rock for us all year. ... Lehner came in and played great."
The Islanders trailed 2-0 early in the second and 3-1 later in the middle period. New York then scored the last five goals, including four in the third.
Lee started the comeback as he took advantage of a giveaway by the Senators in their own zone. Goalie Mike McKenna got the puck behind his net, passed to Ben Harpur in the left corner, but Harpur's pass to Nick Paul went off Paul's stick in the right circle. Lee got the puck and beat McKenna for his 14th with 2:32 to go in the middle period.
Boychuk tied the score 3-3 at 2:57 of the third as he fired a slap shot from the right point. It was his second of the season, with both goals coming in his last four games.
"Anytime you're down two, try to get one before the end of the period," Lee said. "We got that. And for Johnny to come out in the third and rifle one home really set the momentum for the rest of the game."
Barzal, who got his team-leading 25th assist earlier in the game, gave the Islanders their first lead at 4:51. Barzal made it 5-3 after a turnover by the Senators in the neutral zone, beating McKenna from the inside edge of the right circle for his seventh with 7:36 left.
Urged to shoot more by coach Barry Trotz, Barzal converted on both of his shots on goal in the game.
"I'm trying to look at the net a little more," he said "I'm just trying to make the right play. If the shot's there the shot's there, if it's not it's not."
Cizikas added an empty-netter with 54 seconds left for his career-high 10th.
Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Cody Ceci scored for Ottawa, which has lost six of eight (2-5-1). McKenna finished with 33 saves as the Senators fell to 4-13-1 on the road.
"We scored three goals," Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. "We were solid, had control of game. We gave them two goals — they got life and momentum. ... There were some giveaways and they scored two goals."
The game got chippy late with several fights, including pushing and shoving after the final buzzer.
Stone got the Senators on the scoreboard late in the first period, taking advantage of a giveaway by the Islanders in their own zone, beating Greiss from the left circle for his 17th with 3:42 left. It gave Stone eight goals and 17 points in his last 15 games.
Duchene scored on the power play at 2:47 of the second to make it 2-0. It was Duchene's third goal in three games since missing six games with an injury.
The Islanders scored a little more than 20 seconds later after a giveaway by the Senators. McKenna played the puck behind his goal to the right and tried to send it up along the right side boards, However, Barzal got the puck in the left circle, passed across to Bailey on the right side and he put it in before McKenna could slide over at 3:11.
Ceci restored the Senators' two-goal lead exactly 3 minutes later with his fifth.
Lehner replaced Greiss after that and Ottawa didn't score again.
NOTES: Ceci appeared in his 400th career game, becoming the fifth
Senators: Host Washington on Saturday night
Islanders: At Toronto on Saturday night for the first matchup against former captain John Tavares.
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Vin A. Cherwoo, The Associated Press