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GAME PREVIEW: Islanders at Buffalo,

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
7:00 pm, FSN 2 (Cablevision Ch. 60), WLIE 540

The Islanders boarded a 9:00 am charter flight out of Farmingdale to Buffalo today. Traditionally, the team leaves for the road city the afternoon before a game, but league rules dictate mandatory days off on Dec. 24 and 25. So most of the Islanders got on the flight Monday morning or met the team at the arena for the 11:30 morning skate. No doubt a major subject of the pre-skate meeting was avoiding an oh-fer against the surprising Sabres.
The Islanders dropped the first three meetings between the teams this season, only getting a point in the most recent matchup, a shootout vistory by the Sabres at the Coliseum on Nov. 23. With the exception of Oleg Kvasha, the Islanders are nearly whole for tonight's game. Despite the loss to Ottawa on Saturday, both Shawn Bates and Jason Blake looked sharp. Here are your game notes:

December 23, 2005
Ottawa Senators 4, New York Islanders 2

Three first period goals by the Senators were too much for the Islanders to overcome as they lost to Ottawa 4-2 at the Nassau Coliseum. Jason Blake and Mark Parrish scored for the Islanders, but Mike York's eight game scoring streak was snapped. Rick DiPietro made 22 saves on 26 shots.
- Center Kevin Colley (knee sprain) was injured on Dec. 13 and was placed on the Injured Reserve on Dec. 17. He is out indefinitely.
- Center Oleg Kvasha (ankle) was injured on Nov. 26 and is currently on the Injured Reserve retroactive on Nov. 26
- Center Petteri Nokelainen (patella tendonitis) has missed the last 20 games. He's currently on the Injured Reserve retroactive of Nov. 3, 2005.
Total Man-Games Lost (After 34 games): 64   

Arron Asham
Rib Muscle
Shawn Bates
Hip Strain (4), Hamstring Strain (12)
Jason Blake
Kevin Colley
Knee Sprain
Concussion (1), Bruised Knee (1)
Oleg Kvasha
Petteri Nokelainen
Sprained Ankle (1), Knee Injury (21)
Mark Parrish
Hip Strain
Brent Sopel
Sprained Wrist
Total Games Missed:

December 23 Activated forward Shawn Bates from the Injured Reserve. Recalled forward Jeff Hamilton on an emergency basis and returned him to Bridgeport (AHL) following the game.
December 21 Recalled forwards Rob Collins and Jeff Hamilton on an emergency basis and returned them to Bridgeport following the game.
December 20 Returned forwards Rob Collins, Jeremy Colliton and Jeff Hamilton to Bridgeport.
Goals... Jason Blake, Miroslav Satan 15
Assists... Alexei Yashin, Alexei Zhitnik 20
Points... Alexei Yashin 33
Penalty Minutes... Arron Asham 68
Plus/Minus... Jason Blake +5
Game-Winning Goals... Shawn Bates 4
Power Play Goals... Mark Parrish 9
Power Play Assists... Alexei Zhitnik 15
Power Play Points... Alexei Zhitnik 17
Shots... Jason Blake 134
Shooting Percentage... Mark Parrish 24.5%
Time on Ice... Alexei Zhitnik 24:34 per game
Tonight's game is the 126th regular season meeting and 142nd meeting all-time between the Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres. The Islanders currently trail the all-time series 47-58-18-2. In Buffalo, the Islanders have a 20-32-9-1 record versus the Sabres. This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. Buffalo has won the season-series with a 2-0-1 record.
Did You Know? Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro made his NHL debut versus the Sabres on January 27, 2001 at the Coliseum. The Islanders lost the game 2-1, but DiPietro recorded an assist in the contest.
2005-06 Season Series:
October 5, 2005: Buffalo Sabres 6, Islanders 4 HSBC Arena
October 29, 2005: Buffalo Sabres 6, Islanders 4 Nassau Coliseum
November 23, 2005: Buffalo Sabres 4, Islanders 3 (F/SO) Nassau Coliseum
December 26, 2005: 7:00 pm HSBC Arena
Jason Blake, Rick DiPietro and Mark Parrish were named to Team USA for the upcoming 2006 Winter Games in Turino, Italy. This is the first time each of the three players will be representing their home country in Olympic play. In September 2004, Blake and DiPietro played for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey. Parrish has represented the United States in three World Champions (1998, 2001 & 2005), while DiPietro has played in two World Championships (2001 & 2005). Blake has made one appearance at the World Championships (2000).
Miroslav Satan is heading back to the Olympics for the third time and will suit up for Team Slovakia in Italy. Also returning to the Olympics is center Alexei Yashin and defenseman Alexei Zhitnik. For Yashin this will also be his third Olympics after playing for Team Russia in 1998 and 2002. The 2006 games will also be Zhitnik's third tour with Team Russia and first since 1998. He chose not to join the team at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Yashin has won Olympic Silver (1998) and Bronze (2002), while Zhitnik has won Silver (1998) and Gold (1992).
After suffering a scary injury on Dec. 13 vs. Minnesota, Jason Blake is back in the lineup and hasn't missed a beat. Blake is off to the best start of his career this season. Through his first 32 games of the season, Blake has recorded 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points, good enough for third on the team. His goal total places him in a tie with Miroslav Satan for first on the squad. Entering this season, his best mark through 32 games came in 2002-03 when he had 18 points and finished the year with career-highs with 25 goals, 30 assists and 55 points.
Currently, Blake has points in eight of his last 12 games (8+6). That includes a game against Philadelphia on Nov. 26 when he netted his third career hat trick. Most recently, Blake chipped in a goal vs. Ottawa on Dec. 23.
Blake also recently played in his 300th game as an Islander on Dec. 23 vs. Ottawa. He has played in 382 games in his NHL career with the other 82 Los Angeles Kings. After going undrafted, Bale was signed by the Kings in April of 1999. The Islanders acquired Blake from the Kings on January 3, 2001 for a fifth round draft pick.
Although Mike York's eight-game scoring streak was snapped on Dec. 23 versus Ottawa, he's still one of the Islanders hottest skaters. In the last eight games, York has netted 15 points (6+9). He started off his hot streak by scoring the game-wining goal in Detroit on Dec. 4th and then tied a single-game high in points with five at Columbus two days later on Dec. 6th. He's also scored a power play goal at Columbus on Dec. 8th. He added one assist in three straight games (Dec. 13-Dec. 19) and scored a goal with two assists on Dec. 21st vs. New Jersey. Earlier this year, York scored his 100th NHL goal in the Islanders 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 at the Nassau Coliseum. On the season, York has recorded seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points and is sixth on the team in scoring.
Forward Jeff Hamilton is taking advantage of his stint with the Islanders. In four games, Hamilton has recorded five points (1+4). After re-signing with the Islanders on Nov. 15, Hamilton finally got his chance this season when he was recalled for the Islanders Dec. 17 game versus Colorado. In just his second career NHL game, but first of the season, Hamilton recorded his first NHL goal/point at the 2:24 mark of the first period versus the Avalanche. He put the puck past Colorado goaltender David Aebischer. On Dec. 19 at Toronto, Hamilton recorded his first two NHL assists and added his third and fourth on Dec. 21 vs. New Jersey and on Dec. 23 vs. Ottawa, respectively. Hamilton made his NHL debut on Dec. 2, 2003 vs. Washington.
Forwards Kevin Colley, Oleg Kvasha and Petteri Nokelainen remain on the Injured Reserve. Colley (knee sprain) was placed on the Injured Reserve list on Dec. 17 after sustaining his injury on Dec. 13 vs. Minnesota. He has missed the last five games. Kvasha (ankle) has missed the last 10 games and was injured on Nov. 26 at Philadelphia. He was placed on the IR on Dec. 15 retroactive of Nov. 26. Nokelainen (patella tendonitis) has missed the last 23 games.
Arron Asham and Trent Hunter have a hit or be hit type of mentality. Coming out of the holiday break, Hunter is in sixth place in the NHL with 92, while Asham is eighth with 88. Brad Lukowich is third on the team and leads Islanders defenseman with 70 and is 18th in the NHL. As a team, the Islanders have unloaded 616 hits on their opponents this season. In Friday's game, Hunter led the team with four hits.
Team captain Alexei Yashin leads the team in scoring with 33 points (13+20) in 34 games. This season, Yashin has recorded a point in 25 of 34 games. He has also scored in 14 of the last 19 games (5+13) and six of the last 11. He's also had six multiple-point games. This is Yashin's second best start since the 2001-02 season, his first as an Islander. That season he finished with 32 goals, 43 assists and 75 points. Through the first 34 games of that season he had 36 points.
This season, he had a season-high seven-game point streak from Oct. 10-25, collecting 11 points (5+6). In addition to his seven-game point streak, Yashin recorded an assist in five consecutive games (Oct. 15-25) and had a five-game scoring streak (2+3) (11/15-12/6). The seven-game point streak was Yashin's longest since the 2003-04, when he had a nine-game point streak with 13 points (3+10) from Nov. 14-Dec. 3.
After starting off the 2005-06 season with points in four of the first seven games (3+2), Mark Parrish slowed down after suffering a hip strain. But Parrish turned his luck around as he's making up for his mini-slump with 17 points in the last 15 games (9+8). He most recently scored a goal and added an assist on Dec. 23 vs. Ottawa. Parrish is also second in the league in shooting percentage with a mark of 24.5 percent.
The Islanders have started off December on a good note with a 5-3-1 record in nine games. Following a win at Detroit (12/4), the Islanders rolled past the St. Louis Blues (12/6) and rallied against the Columbus Blue Jackets (12/8) before falling in the shootout. They returned to the Coliseum to the defeat the Edmonton Oilers in the shootout (12/10), lost to the Minnesota Wild (12/13) and beat the Colorado Avalanche (12/17). They recently lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a one-game road trip (12/19), but came home to the Coliseum to defeat the New Jersey Devils (12/21) before falling to the Ottawa Senators (12/23). The Islanders will play a total of 12 games this month, six at home and six on the road. In 2003-04, the Islanders were 10-4-0-1 in December. 


* The Islanders have an overtime victory, three shootout victories and two shootout losses. They have not yet lost in overtime. See below for details.
- The Islanders killed off two of four Ottawa power plays on Friday night.
- They have now allowed 15 power play goals in the last 10 games (65 chances).
- Overall, the Islanders have killed off 187 of 230 (81.3%) power play attempts in 34 games this season.
- The Islanders penalty kill is ranked fourth in the NHL on the road with an 84.9 penalty kill percentage, while they are ranked 29th at home with a penalty kill percentage of 77.5.
- They have allowed a power play goal in eight straight.
- This season, the Islanders had a streak of 37 consecutive penalty kills, which spanned six complete games and parts of two others. The streak started during the team's game at New Jersey on Nov. 8th and last until the second penalty kill of the team's game vs. Buffalo on Nov. 23rd. Chris Drury scored on the power play for the Sabres at 17:29 of the first period to snap the Islanders consecutive penalty kill streak.
- The Islanders have recorded three shorthanded goals this season. Arron Asham scored a shorthanded goal in the Islanders' 5-4 win over the Rangers on Oct. 20. Earlier in the season, Shawn Bates scored the first shorthanded goal of the season in the Isles' 3-1 win over the Hurricanes on Oct. 8 and Jason Blake scored a shorthanded tally in the Islanders' 5-3 win over Washington on Oct. 13.    
- The Islanders were two for eight on the power play versus Ottawa on Friday night.
- They have 16 power play goals in the last 10 games.
- Overall, the Islanders have scored a power play goal in 25 of 34 games this season.
- They are 41-220 (18.6%) on the man-advantage and are 12th in the NHL. On the road, the team's power play is seventh in the NHL at 18.4%, while they are ranked 13th at home at 19.0%.
- Last season, the Islanders recorded at least one power play goal in 38 of 82 games. They had a record of 27-9-3, including a mark of 16-4-1 at home in games that they scored at least one power play goal. 
The Islanders are 8-7-1 at home this season, scoring 52 goals and allowing 58. The team has won three of their last five games at home going back to their Dec. 10th win over Edmonton. The Islanders next home game is Wednesday, Dec. 29 versus the New York Rangers.
The Islanders snapped their five-game road-winning streak with their loss in Toronto on Dec. 19. In their last nine road games, the Islanders have a record of 6-2-1. The Islanders next road game is on Dec. 26 at Buffalo. It is the second and final visit to Buffalo in the regular season.
The Islanders have a five-game road trip in March, which will also take them to Atlanta, Boston, Florida, New Jersey and Tampa Bay.
The Islanders have participated in five shootouts this season and have an overall record of 3-2 and are 1-1 at the Coliseum. Rick DiPietro has been the Islanders goaltender in each shootout.
The most recent shootout occurred on Dec. 10th when Alexei Yashin and Trent Hunter (determining goal) scored for the Islanders as Rick DiPietro stopped two of three Edmonton Oilers shooters for the win.
On Dec. 8th, the Islanders lost in the shootout for the second time this season. Alexei Yashin, Miroslav Satan and Mike York all missed fired on their attempts. Rick DiPietro stopped two of three shooters with Columbus' Davide Vyborny scoring the determining goal
On Nov. 23, the Islanders lost their first shootout since its inception dropping the decision to the Buffalo Sabres at the Coliseum. Ales Kotalik (determining goal) and Tim Connolly scored against Rick DiPietro, while Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake failed on their attempts for the Islanders.
The Islanders shootout victory over the Penguins on Nov. 14 was the second longest so far in the NHL this season. Eighteen shooters were used by both teams, which at the time set a new standard in the inaugural season for the shootout. Jason Blake netted the determining goal against goaltender Jocelyn Thibault and Islanders' goaltender Rick DiPietro stopped seven of nine Penguin shooters, including rookie Ryan Whitney to seal the win.
The team's first shoot out victory came against the New York Rangers in a 3-2 decision at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 19. In that contest, Miroslav Satan scored the only shootout goal against Henrik Lundqvist. 
The Islanders are 13-6-1 this season when scoring first and 4-8-1 when the opposition scores the first goal of the game. In 2003-04, the Islanders had a record 11-23-6-3 when their opponents scored first. They were 27-6-5-1 when they scored the first goal of the game.   
The Islanders have been outshot, 1,104-998, through the first 34 games of the 2005-06 season. The Islanders have been outshot in 23 of 34 games this season, including a stretch of seven games that started on Nov. 19 at Florida and ended at St. Louis on Dec. 6. The Islanders are allowing an average of 32.5 shots per game. Thirteen of the team's 16 victories have come when the team has been outshot. They have a record of 13-9-1 when they have been outshot and have a record of 3-6-1 in games when they've outshot the opponent. The Islanders are 1-0 in games where they tie their opponents shot total.
The Islanders recorded a season-high 40 shots, including 20 in the first period at Philadelphia on Nov. 10 and tied that mark at Columbus on Dec. 8. The Islanders have also allowed 40 or more shots in a game four times this season and have a record of 2-2. The most recent game was the team's loss versus the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 25.
The Islanders have only lost once in 64 games (56 wins, eight ties and one overtime loss in the shootout) when taking a lead into the third period. The Islanders are 12-0-1 this season when leading after two periods. This streak includes wining in overtime (vs. Bruins, Nov. 1) and winning in the shootout twice (at Rangers, Oct. 19 and at Pittsburgh Nov. 14) this season. The only loss occurred in the shootout when the Islanders dropped a 4-3 decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 23rd. During the 2003-04 season, the Islanders were 26-0-5-0 when leading after two periods.
In the Islanders last overtime game, Shawn Bates scored the game-winning goal with 28.2 seconds left to lift the Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Nov. 1 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are 4-2 in overtime/shootout (one overtime win, three shootout victories, two shootout losses) this season and have a lifetime record of 66-61-194 in overtime. Last season, the Islanders had a record of 2-4-11 in overtime.
The Islanders split their last back-to-back set in late November. The club fell to the Ottawa Senators at the Nassau Coliseum on Nov. 25 6-2, but rallied to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers on the road 4-2 on Nov. 26. The Islanders are scheduled to play 10 sets of back-to-back games during the 2005-06 regular season, four fewer than they had in 2003-04. The Islanders do not have back-to-back games in December and the next set is in January when the team plays a home-and-home series versus Carolina on Jan. 6-7.
The Islanders have a record of 2-1-0 in the first game of back-to-back games and a 2-1-0 record in the second game. The Islanders played 14 back-to-back sets in 2003-04, posting a 13-13-1-1 record in those 28 contests; 8-6-0-0 in the first games of back-to-back sets and 5-7-1-1 in the second games.
In the Islanders 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 23, two impressive streaks were snapped. In the first period, Buffalo scored a power play goal, which was the first tally the Islanders allowed with the opposition on the man advantage in six complete games and 37 total chances. The other streak was victories with the lead after two periods. Before that game, the Islanders were unbeaten in 61 games (53-0-8) when taking a lead into the third period. The streak was the longest in the NHL. The streak began on Dec. 28, 2002 with a 3-0 win vs. Carolina.  
Jason Blake was named the H.L. Gross & Brothers Jewelers player of the month for November. Blake led the Islanders with 13 points in November on seven goals and six assists. In a win on Nov. 26 in Philadelphia, he recorded the third hat trick of his career. Alexei Yashin was the player of the month for October.
- Arron Asham is two points away from his 100th NHL point.
- Arron Asham is ten games away from his 200th as an Islander.
- Kevin Colley's next goal will be his first NHL goal.
- Oleg Kvasha is seven points away from his 200th NHL point.
- Mark Parrish is four points away from his 200th as an Islander.
- Tomi Pettinen's next goal will be his first NHL goal.
- Miroslav Satan is seven power play goals away from his 100th NHL power play goal.
- Wyatt Smith's next goal will be his first as an Islander.
- Alexei Yashin is two points away from his 700th NHL point.
- Alexei Yashin is six assists away from his 400th NHL assist.
- Chris Campoli, Robert Nilsson and Petteri Nokelainen each played in their first NHL game on Oct. 5th, 2005 at Buffalo.
- Chris Campoli scored his first NHL goal/point on his first NHL shot on Oct. 5th, 2005 at Buffalo.
- Petteri Nokelainen scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 13th at Washington.
- Robert Nilsson scored his first NHL goal vs. Buffalo on Oct. 29.
- Alexei Yashin scored his 300th career NHL goal on Nov. 14th at Pittsburgh.
- Alexei Zhitnik played in his 900th NHL career game on Nov. 14th at Pittsburgh.
- Jeremy Colliton played in his first NHL game on Nov. 23rd vs. Buffalo.
- Arron Asham played in his 300th NHL game on Nov. 25th vs. Ottawa.
- Rick DiPietro played in his 100th NHL game on Nov. 25th vs. Ottawa.
- Alexei Yashin scored his 200th point as an Islander on Nov. 26th at Philadelphia.
- Bruno Gervais made his NHL debut on Dec. 4th at Detroit.
- Mike York played in his 400th NHL game on Dec. 4th at Detroit
- Brad Lukowich played in his 400th NHL game on Dec. 6th at St. Louis.
- Mark Parrish recorded his 150th NHL goal on Nov. 29th vs. Philadelphia.
- Mark Parrish recorded his 100th goal as an Islander on Nov. 29th vs. Philadelphia.
- Jeff Hamilton scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 17 vs. Colorado.
- Rob Collins made his NHL debut on Dec. 17 vs. Colorado.
- Rob Collins recorded his first NHL assists on Dec. 19 at Toronto.
- Rob Collins scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 19 at Toronto.
- Eric Godard scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 19 at Toronto.
- Jeff Hamilton recorded his first two NHL assists on Dec. 19 at Toronto.
- Jason Blake recorded his 200th point as an Islander on Dec. 21 vs. New Jersey.
- Jason Blake played in his 300th games as an Islander on Dec. 23 vs. Ottawa.
It took 76 games and a video review, but Eric Godard finally scored his first NHL goal. At 2:11 of the first period, Godard buried the puck past Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour for his first of his career on Dec. 19 at Toronto. Godard's first NHL point was recorded on Nov. 20, 2003 at Tampa Bay.
Rob Collins won't forget Dec. 19 either. The first-year forward netted his first NHL assist/point and his first NHL goal at the

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