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Isles dump Sens, grab 8th spot in East

1/19/2004

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Oleg Kvasha found a goalie that he could
handle.

One day after a fight in practice with teammate Garth Snow left
him with a bloody nose, the Islanders forward scored an insurance
goal to lift New York to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on
Monday.

During the scrap on Sunday, Snow -- New York's No. 1 goalie --
smacked Kvasha in the face with his blocker.

"It was just a little accident. It happens once in a while,"
Kvasha said.

By Monday, Kvasha had recovered well enough to strip the puck
from Senators forward Bryan Smolinski and go in for a goal against
Martin Prusek to push New York's lead to 4-2.

Roman Hamrlik restored the Islanders' advantage just 21 seconds
earlier to rescue New York from another collapse against Ottawa.
The Senators rallied to tie it 2-2, after coming back from a 4-0
hole on Thursday to earn a 4-4 draw.

Cliff Ronning scored twice in his fourth game with the
Islanders, and Jason Blake added a goal to give New York just its
second home win against the Senators in 19 games.

"I look at it as two points rather than who we beat,"
Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. "Yes, it's nice, but the
points are the most important thing."

The 38-year-old Ronning, signed 10 days earlier as a free agent,
notched his 300th NHL goal to make it 5-2 with 6:09 left. He has
three goals this season, his 16th.

"I was skating with beer-league players before I came here, and
I realized how much I loved the game," Ronning said. "Even at
40-50, you may not be able to live this dream of playing in the
NHL, but you realize how much you play the game for the love of
it."

The Islanders built a 2-0 lead they carried into the third
period, but Ottawa got even when Chris Neil and Daniel Alfredsson
scored 1:08 apart. Stirling called timeout, hoping to prevent a
similar meltdown to the one Thursday against the surging Senators.

"I said very little," Stirling recalled. "The veterans on the
bench said a few things."

It worked.

Just 4:15 after the Senators tied it at 3:19, the Islanders
regained the lead. Blake fought to get the puck back to the point
to Hamrlik, who fired a shot that hit the right post and caromed
past Prusek at 7:34 for his first goal of the season.

It took only 21 seconds for the advantage to grow to 4-2.
Smolinski tried to make a pass but lost the puck at his blue line
to Kvasha, who streaked in alone and beat Prusek at 7:55.

The Senators missed a chance to take over first place in the
Eastern Conference, losing for just the second time in 17 games
(11-2-4). Ottawa lost the season series to New York (2-1-1) for the
first time since the 1993-94 season.

"We got two quick ones in the first five minutes and kind of
took control of the game right there," Smolinski said. "But it
was just a bunch of mental mistakes that really cost us. It happens
and you just have to learn from that."

Blake made it 1-0 with 18 seconds left in the first period, when
he put a wrist shot past Prusek. Ronning made it a two-goal lead
3:12 into the second, jamming a shot off Prusek.

Except for the scoring flurry, Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro
was sharp in making 30 saves.

"All year long we've done a good job coming back from behind.
We never give up," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "All
in all it's a pretty good effort for us."

Prusek's six-game winning streak snapped, and he allowed a
season-high five goals on 23 shots.

Game notes
DiPietro made three great saves against Martin Havlat, the
NHL offensive player of the week for last week. ... Before a 6-3
victory on Nov. 3, Ottawa was 13-0-4 on Long Island since Jan. 6,
1996, including two wins during a five-game playoff victory last
season. The Senators are 26-5-8 against the Islanders the past
eight years.