Alexei Yashin continues to do it for the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators' captain scored twice and added two assists as his team beat the New York Islanders 7-3 on Saturday night and took a four-point lead for first place overall in the Eastern Conference.
"He's the key to our club," Senators coach Jacques Martin said. "After he was made captain, he responded very well and elevated his game."
Yashin's goals increased his career-high total to 41, and his 43 assists are six short of his career high with Ottawa, set in his rookie season of 1993-94.
"Yash is our leader," defenseman Wade Redden said. "He's the one that makes us go."
New York had the only first-period goal when Zigmund Palffy scored his team-leading 18th at 16:57, beating Ron Tugnutt with a wrist shot.
Ottawa tied the game at 1:09 of the second period when Marian Hossa scored the first of his two goals on a wrist shot. The Senators went up 2-1 at 10:12 when former Islander Ted Donato stuffed the puck past goalie Wade Flaherty. New York tied the game at 17:40 when Joe Sacco scored between Tugnutt's pads.
Shortly thereafter, Ottawa took over the game by scoring four times in a 4:29 span for a 6-2 lead.
Radek Bonk put the Senators ahead for good at 18:49 when he scored into an open net after Flaherty was faked out of position. Yashin scored 32 seconds later off a 3-on-1 rush.
Ottawa continued the splurge when Hossa scored at 1:48 of the third period from the top of the crease.
"I couldn't believe I was that wide open," Hossa said. "I just went back and forth and back and forth. I was waiting to get hit or slashed, and I never did."
Andreas Dackell finished the outburst at 3:18 when he swept in a turnover by Flaherty.
Later, during an Islander penalty, Zdeno Chara scored short-handed at 14:44, and then Yashin answered on the same power play at 15:08.
"They've been patient with Yashin," Islanders coach Bill Stewart said. "He's grown to be a leader. When he goes, they go."
Yashin said his teammates deserved much of the credit for his success.
"It's an accomplishment to score (40) goals, but my teammates have helped," Yashin said. "I just want to be the best I can be."
Redden said the reason for his team's rise over the last three years has been continuity.
"We're a pretty young team," Redden said. "Everyone here is growing up together, and we just add a few people here and there, like Hossa. But most of the players here have been here and have gone through this together."
The Islanders are having one of their worst seasons, and the only continuity on the team has been change.
"I'm embarrassed," Stewart said. "Any time we've had any adversity this year, we've kind of stumbled. It's immaturity. Being young in this league is very difficult."
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