Andre Benoit and Dave Dziurzynski have taken very different routes to the NHL, but both had their biggest nights as professionals Tuesday.
Benoit and Dziurzynski scored their first goals in the NHL and Craig Anderson made 37 saves as the Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders 3-1.
"I've played a few years to get here so to finally score a goal in the NHL is special," said Benoit, a native of St. Albert, Ont., some 60 kilometres east of Ottawa. "Since I was a young boy I've been thinking about this."
Colin Greening had the other goal for Ottawa (9-6-2).
Travis Hamonic replied for the Islanders (6-9-1), who got 23 saves from Rick DiPietro in just his third start of the season.
Benoit's goal at 8:37 of the second period made it 2-0 for Ottawa and came a little more than two weeks after he thought he originally had his first back on Feb. 3 in Montreal. But a goaltender interference penalty that day on Jakob Silfverberg negated the goal.
On Tuesday, Silfverberg made a nice pass to Benoit for a one-timer past DiPietro.
"The first one would have never went in if [Silfverberg] wasn't standing there so I can't blame that on him. Tonight it was a great pass and he made a good play," said the 29-year-old Benoit, who played just his 21st NHL after five years in the American Hockey League and three other campaigns in Europe.
"It was disappointing for that first one not to count, but I knew eventually that it would come. It doesn't matter when it comes it's just nice to have it."
Hamonic's wrist shot at 2:44 of the third period cut the Ottawa lead to 2-1 and ended a scoreless streak of 103:19 for the Islanders.
Dziurzynski, in his third professional season, gave the Senators a 3-1 advantage at 17:25 of the third with his first goal in just his third NHL game. DiPietro couldn't handle the big left-winger's initial shot and Dziurzynski poked the rebound home.
Senators rookie defenceman Eric Gryba picked up an assist for his first NHL point.
"It's an outstanding feeling. Since I was a little kid I've always wanted to play in the NHL and I'm very happy that I got here and that I got to do it early when I've only played three games," said the 23-year-old Dziurzynski, who added he didn't mind stealing some of Benoit's thunder.
"I'm just happy he got his and I got mine on the same night. We've been playing well defensively we've just had some trouble scoring goals. It's good to get a couple on the board and hopefully get some confidence and get some offence rolling."
Following a scoreless opening period that featured just fifteen shots, Greening opened the scoring for a struggling Ottawa power play that came in on an 0-for-24 slump.
With five Islanders, including DiPietro, around him, Greening jammed in a loose puck home for his second of the season at 6:01.
Benoit then added his first in the NHL off the feed from Silfverberg just 2:36 later.
The Islanders poured on the pressure, but as he has so many times this season for the injury-riddled Senators — who are without defenceman Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza, among others — Anderson held the fort until Harmonic found a way through early in the third.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano said his team played a good game, especially after a 7-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
"It's a loss but [the] guys obviously worked hard. We had a lot of chances, we stayed the course and kept to the gameplan but their goaltender played well," Capuano said. "We had a good system review [Tuesday] morning. Obviously our game wasn't very good against Philadelphia and we just wanted to go out and work hard for one another and play with a lot of passion. I thought we did that. We did a lot of good things."