Anders Lee and Mikhail Grabovski scored 62 seconds apart to break open a 1-0 game and the Isles moved back into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres before a crowd of 18,900 at First Niagara Center.
Colin McDonald, recalled from Bridgeport due to injuries to Cal Clutterbuck and Michael Grabner, scored his first NHL goal since last March 25th to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders, who scored three goals in actual game play for the first time since their win over the Rangers on January 27th, held the Sabres to 10 shots on goal. It’s the fewest shots the Isles have ever allowed in a road game, and tied the club record set in a February 16, 2008 victory over Atlanta at the Coliseum.
The Scoring: 1ST PERIOD 16:19 NYI Colin McDonald (1) ASST: Casey Cizikas (8) 1 - 0 NYI
2ND PERIOD 10:20 NYI PPG - Anders Lee (16) ASST: Travis Hamonic (13), John Tavares (27) 2 - 0 NYI 11:22 NYI Mikhail Grabovski (9) ASST: Travis Hamonic (14), Frans Nielsen (20) 3 - 0 NYI 12:33 BUF Marcus Foligno (6) ASST: Nikita Zadorov (10), Brian Flynn (10) 3 - 1 NYI 14:57 BUF Drew Stafford (9) ASST: Marcus Foligno (5) 3 - 2 NYI
3RD PERIOD NONE
The Skinny: Frans Nielsen played his 500th Isles/NHL game; he is the 25th Islander (24 skaters and Billy Smith) to play in 500 games and the first to do since Kenny Jonsson in 2003. Nielsen is also the first player since Richard Pilon to play all of his first 500 NHL games for the Islanders…Halak needed to make only eight saves; his .800 save percentage is the lowest in an Islander win since Chris Osgood stopped 10 of 13 (.769) in an OT win over Nashville in 2002. Halak is the first NHL goalie to make as few as 8 saves in a complete-game win since Dominik Hasek made 8 saves, also on 10 shots, on 11/17/2001 for Detroit vs. Los Angeles…The Isles are 17-2-1 when leading after two periods…Thomas Hickey celebrated his 26th birthday…Anders Lee now has 16 goals, third amongst rookies. Filip Forsberg recorded his 18th goal today; Mike Hoffman has 17… The win snaps a 7-game Islander losing streak outside of their division. In their last 15 games, the Isles are 7-0-0 vs. Met Division opponents and are 1-7-0 vs. other divisions... The Isles remain tied with Chicago for the NHL lead in road wins (17); the Blackhawks won in St. Louis this afternoon…18 of the Isles’ final 29 games will be at home.
Zolnierczyk Makes Isles Debut Zolnierczyk played 11:57 in his 58th NHL game and first for the Isles. He joins Yann Danis as the only former Brown Bears to play for the Isles. He is one of 75 players with the last name starting with "Z" to appear in an NHL game; he replaces Alexei Zhitnik as the last Islander, at least alphabetically. (Keith Acton is first)
Zolnierczyk is the 517th player in Islander history (471 skaters and 46 goalies). 346 of the other 516 have scored at least one goal. Metropolitan Division Standings (Top 4) • ISLES 34-18-1=69 points (27 ROW) Beat Buffalo 3-2 • Pittsburgh 30-15-8=68 points (28 ROW) Idle • Washington 28-16-10=66 points (27 ROW) Lost 3-1 to Philadelphia • NY Rangers 30-16-5=65 points (28 ROW) Lost 3-2 in OT to Dallas Upcoming Schedule: • ISLES: Tuesday vs. Edmonton, Thursday vs. Toronto, Saturday vs. Columbus • Pittsburgh: Wednesday vs Detroit, Thursday @ Ottawa, Sunday @ Chicago • Washington: Wednesday @ San Jose, Saturday @ Los Angeles, Sunday @ Anaheim • NY Rangers: Tuesday @Toronto, Thursday @ Colorado, Saturday @ Arizona
Year of the Fan: The Isles have sold-out seven of their last eight home games, nine of the last 11 and 13 of their 23 home dates this season. The 13 sellouts are the most for the Isles since they also had 21 full houses at the Old Barn in 2001-02.
Month for the Fans: February is the busiest home month in Islander history, as they will play ten home games this month. The Isles have played ten home games three previous times (January 1980, December 1999 and December 2000) but all were in 31-day months.
After this three-game road trip, the Isles will play 9 of the final 11 February games at home.
Comparable Records The Isles are 34-18-1 thru 53 games. The Isles were 21-25-7 through 53 games and 21-26-7 through 54 games last season, when they did not record their 34th win until they defeated Buffalo in the season finale on April 13th (34-37-11).
Most wins in first 53 games: • 34-18-1 in 2014-15 • 34-9-10 in 1978-79 • 34-13-6 in 1981-82 • 33-12-8 in 1980-81 • 33-12-8 in 1977-78 • 31-14-8 in 1976-77 • 31-20-2 in 1983-84
Most points in first 53 games: • 78 in 1978-79 • 74 in 1980-81 • 74 in 1977-78 • 74 in 1981-82 • 70 in 1976-77 • 69 in 2014-15 • 66 in 1975-76
Home Sweet Home The Isles are 17-6-0 on Coliseum ice; the club record for most wins through 23 home games is 19 (19-0-4 in 1978-79).
Streakers The Isles have had a season of streaks, going 4-0-0 to open the season and then (in succession) 0-2-0, 2-0-0, 0-3-0, 13-2-0, 0-3-0, 7-1-1, 0-2-0, 6-1-0, 0-3-0, and are 2-1-0 in their last 3.
Winning Streaks (Season) 2 streaks of at least 5 games -- First time since the 1987-88 season that the Isles have had two winning streaks of at least five games. 5 streaks of at least 4 games -- First time since the 1984-85 season that the Isles have had five winning streaks of at least four games. 7 streaks of at least 3 games -- First time since the 1984-85 season that the Isles have had at least seven winning streaks of at least three games.
The Shots: Isles 9-15-7 =31 Buffalo 5-3-2 =10
On the season, the Isles have outshot their opponents 1,763-1,430 for a +333 shot differential. The club record for differential for a season is +307 in 1976-77. The Isles have had only two other seasons over +150: (+254 in 1986-87 and +152 in 1975-76).
Isles had 2,537 shots on goal last season, most since a franchise-record 2,616 in 1992-93. Isles are currently on pace for a record-breaking 2,728 shots this year.
Buffalo has outshot their opponents only four times this season and has been outshot 1,887-1,219 this season.
Home and Road The Islanders are 34-18-1 overall; 17-6-0 at home and 17-12-1 on the road.
Buffalo is 16-35-3 overall; 11-15-2 at home and 5-20-1 on the road. The Sabres went 3-13-2 in their first 18 games, 11-6-1 in their next 18 games and 2-16-0 in their last 18 games.
By Division The Isles are 17-2-0 in Division games and are 17-16-1 in games against other divisions. They are 8-8-1 vs. the Atlantic Division, 4-5-0 vs. Central Division, and 5-3-0 vs. the Pacific Division.
The Isles finished last season 10-16-4 against the Met and 24-21-7 against other Divisions.
Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc. The Isles are 17-2-0 against the Met Division, including 10 straight wins. They are 10-0-0 at home (outscoring opponents 39-20) and 7-2-0 on the road. The Isles are 7-0 in overtime/shootouts against division foes, going 4-0 at home and 3-0 on the road.
It’s the Isles’ longest home winning streak vs. Divisional opponents to start the season since they went a perfect 16-0-0 vs. the Rangers, Flyers, Penguins and Capitals in the 1981-82 season.
The Isles’ next division game will be on Saturday vs. Columbus.
In the Nets Jaroslav Halak made eight saves to improve to 28-11-0 on the season. He is 6-2-0 in his career against Buffalo.
Michal Neuvirth made 28 saves but falls to 3-14-1 on the season. He is 5-2-0 in his career against the Isles.
28-Win Club Halak is the 5th goalie in Islander history to win at least 28 games in a season:
Player 28-win seasons Rick DiPietro 2 (30 in 2005-06 and 32 in 2006-07) Billy Smith 1 (32 in 1981-82) Chris Osgood 1 (32 in 2001-02) Chico Resch 1 (28 in 1977-78) Jaroslav Halak 1 (28 in 2014-15)
The club record for wins in a season is 32, shared by Billy Smith, Chris Osgood and Rick DiPietro.
Power Plays The Islanders were 1-3 on the power play, while Buffalo was 0-4. It’s only the second time in the last 10 games that the Isles have not allowed a power play goal.
The power play is 8-30 in the last 10 games (26.7%).
The penalty kill has allowed 11 goals in 27 times short over the last 10 games (59.3%) after killing 27-29 (93.1%) over the prior 12 games.
The Isles are 19-9-0 when they score at least one power play goal and 15-9-1 when they do not. The Isles are 14-14-0 when they allow at least one power play goal and 20-4-1 when they do not.
Three is a Magic Number The Isles are 28-5-1 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 6-13-0 when they do not.
One Goal Games The Isles are 20-4-1 in games decided by a single goal including 8-4-0 in regulation. They are 5-0 in games decided in overtime and are 7-1 in shootouts. Five games have been decided by two goals in which the second goal was an empty-netter. The Isles are 3-2 in those games.
First Goal (and Second Goal) The Isles are 19-11-1 when they score first and are 15-7-0 when they allow the opening goal. However, the Isles are 12-0-0 when they allow the opening goal but score the second goal. The Isles have rebounded from 2-0 deficits to win three times this season (New Jersey on December 15th (SO), Pittsburgh on January 16th, and Philadelphia on February 5th)
Second to The One Jack Capuano is the 2nd winningest coach in Islander history. Capuano is 152-138-40 behind the Islander bench. Among the 9 New York teams, only the Giants’ Tom Coughlin and the Yankees’ Joe Girardi have led their respective teams longer than Capuano.
Most games coached (Islanders): 1. Al Arbour 1,500 2. Jack Capuano 330 3. Mike Milbury 191 4. Terry Simpson 187 5. Scott Gordon 181
Most wins by Islander coaches: 1. Al Arbour 740 2. Jack Capuano 152 3. Terry Simpson 81 4. Peter Laviolette 77 5. Ted Nolan 74
They Said It Travis Hamonic: “We did a really good job of buckling down, and playing our defensive style…we’re sticking with our system, sticking with what has worked for us this year.” Colin McDonald: “I was waiting for my opportunity. I understand the role that I’m in…and I was just glad to get in there tonight.” Harry Zolnierczyk: It’s always exciting...just to get your first opportunity to show your game…I’m just trying to bring physicality and energy, contribute offensively when I can.”
They Tweeted It @BruceBeck4NY Oh by the way, @NYIslanders are back in first place and they matched last year's win total tonight with 29 games to go! @meowlovefurall Best way to go into Monday? Watching @NYIslanders win!!! #YesYesYes @justin_paley @NYIslanders dads/mentors/brothers finish 2-1-0 on the trip #isles @B_Krause6 Thank you @NYIslanders for making my day tomorrow at @UBCommunity way better already. #Isles #IslesRoadWarriors @MikeMase97 Big Mac is back w/a big goal today! #ReturnOfTheMac #AlongTheIce #FeelsSoNice @ColinMcDonald13
The Coach “(Colin Mc Donald)’s a big body…he’s physical. His wall play was excellent. … We came out tonight and played a solid road game and we’re happy to get back home…. I can remember (Frans’) first game in Bridgeport—doesn’t surprise me that he reached this milestone.”
Back-to-Backs The Isles are 7-2-0 in the front-end and 7-2-0 on the back end of back-to-backs this season. The Isles have swept 5 sets of back-to-back this season and are 1-1-0 in four sets.
The next back-to-back set will be on February 16th vs. the Rangers and February 17th at Carolina.
Leading Ice Men Travis Hamonic led all Isles with 23:26 of ice-time; Nikita Zadorov led Buffalo in ice-time with 21:30.
Isles record by ice-time leaders: Johnny Boychuk (12-4-0), Travis Hamonic (13-2-1), Lubomir Visnovsky (2-1-0) John Tavares (2-5-0), Thomas Hickey (3-0-0), Nick Leddy (0-3-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0), Kyle Okposo (0-1-0) and Calvin deHaan (1-2-0).
John Tavares led Isles forwards with 19:30 of ice-time. Isles record by Forward ice-time leaders: John Tavares (18-17-1), Kyle Okposo (12-1-0), Ryan Strome (1-0-0), Brock Nelson (1-1-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0), Casey Cizikas (1-0-0), and Josh Bailey (0-1-0).
In the Circle The Islanders won 27 of 48 draws (56%). Brock Nelson won 7 of 9 and Frans Nielsen won 8 of 12 for the Isles; Matt Ellis won all 4 draws he took for Buffalo. The Isles won 10 of 12 draws in the final 20 minutes. The Isles lost both draws on the power play but won all 5 draws on the penalty kill.
Heavy Hitters The Isles were out-hit 27-24. Colin McDonald led the Islanders with 6 hits.
There were no fights. The Isles have been involved in 12 fights this season: Martin (8), Hamonic (2), Lee (1), Strome (1) and nine of the 12 have been against Metropolitan Division opponents.
Giving Up the Body The Isles were credited with nine blocked shots; Nick Leddy led the Isles with four.
For the Corsi Crowd The Isles finished with a total Corsi advantage of 68-28 (including 30-10 in the 1st period). The Corsi stat measures shots attempted, both for and against (including blocks).
In a game in which every Islander had a positive rating and every Sabre had a negative rating, Travis Hamonic led the Isles with a +18 even-strength Corsi rating; Ryan Strome was on-ice for a team-leading 83% of Corsi For events.
Head of the Class Islander Captain John Tavares has 366 career points; he is 72 points ahead of Matt Duchene for most among 2009 draft picks. No other player in that draft is anywhere close. Tavares also has more goals and more assists than any other player in that draft.
All-time Winners The Islanders improve to 22 games over all-time NHL .500 (1439-1417-451 in 3,307 games).
The Isles have not been more than 1 game under NHL-.500 since January 11, 1978 and have finished every season since 1977-78 over all-time NHL .500.
Ironmen Nick Leddy and Brock Nelson are the Islanders’ reigning ironmen. Leddy has played 305 consecutive regular season NHL games, while Nelson has played 106 consecutive regular season Islander games.
Missing Men Kyle Okposo, Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton are on injured reserve. Michael Grabner was added to injured reserve today. Cal Clutterbuck and Calvin deHaan missed the game due to injuries. Lubomir Visnovsky replaced deHaan in the lineup while, Colin McDonald and Harry Zolnierczyk were recalled from Bridgeport. Matt Donovan was scratched.
The Isles have lost 189 games this season due to injury/illness.
All-time Islander Leader Board: John Tavares has: • 160 goals (tied-13th all-time with Pat Flatley and 8 behind Ziggy Palffy) • 206 assists (15th all-time, 43 behind Tomas Jonsson and 53 behind Billy Harris) • 366 points (14th all-time, 3 behind Stefan Persson and 77 behind Billy Harris) • 403 games played (37th among Islander skaters all-time, 9 behind Wayne Merrick and 20 behind Dave Langevin)
Kyle Okposo has: • 113 goals (24th all-time, 3 behind Ray Ferraro and 5 behind Steve Thomas, Matt Moulson and Mark Parrish) • 185 assists (18th all-time, 4 behind Frans Nielsen, 8 behind Pierre Turgeon and 21 behind John Tavares) • 298 points (18th all-time, 33 behind Ziggy Palffy and 35 behind Tomas Jonsson) • 436 games played (32nd among Islander skaters all-time, 10 behind Josh Bailey and 14 behind Scott Lachance)
Frans Nielsen has: • 94 goals (tied-31st all-time with Randy Wood, 1 behind Mikko Makela and David Volek and 5 behind Trent Hunter) • 189 assists (17th all-time, 4 behind Pierre Turgeon and 17 behind John Tavares) • 283 points (23rd all-time, 3 behind Ed Westfall, 7 behind Alexei Yashin and 9 behind Duane Sutter) • 500 games played (24th among Islander skaters all-time, 9 behind Rich Pilon and 10 behind Mick Vukota)
Michael Grabner has: • 87 goals (tied-36th all-time with Butch Goring and 5 behind Travis Green)
Josh Bailey has: • 447 games played (31st among Islander skaters all-time, 3 behind Scott Lachance and 12 behind Trent Hunter)
Season Series Stats The season series is even 1 game to 1 (the Isles have earned 3 points to Buffalo’s 2).
The Isles are 3-0-2 in their last five games in Buffalo and are 4-0-3 in their last seven games vs. the Sabres.
The Sabres will visit the Islanders on April 4th in the penultimate regular season home game.
It Happened at the Coliseum … on FEBRUARY 8th 12 years ago tonight (2003) – Garth Snow made 28 saves and Oleg Kvasha scored the winning goal midway through the third period as the Isles beat Buffalo 3-1.
Former Islander Tim Connolly gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead just 3:45 into play and that lead held into the third period.
The Islanders finally solved Ryan Miller at 1:35 of the third period with an Arron Asham goal that ended a scoreless streak that had reached 153:49. Kvasha’s winner came 7:07 later. Shawn Bates iced the game with a shorthanded empty net tally; it was Bates’ league-leading 5th shorthanded goal.
The win gave the Islanders consecutive victories over Buffalo for the first time since 1996 and moved the Isles into 7th place in the East.
"We needed this game (over the last place Sabres)," coach Peter Laviolette told Newsday’s Alan Hahn. "We've got to keep putting wins in the column and collecting points. It's getting too tight."
Also on this date: (1977) – Bryan Trottier scored a goal and added two assists while Chico Resch made 25 saves as the Isles defeated Los Angeles 4-1.
Also on this date: (1983) - The Coliseum hosted the NHL All-Star Game for the only time. Wayne Gretzky scored 4 goals in the third period to lead the Campbell Conference to the win.
All-time, the Isles have played eight February 8th games at the Coliseum and finish with a 4-4-0 record on this date at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale.
On The Farm The Sound Tigers are 21-21-5-1 after a 3-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre-Scranton on Sunday. With McDonald and Zolnierczyk on recall, Bridgeport dressed 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Kael Mouilleriat scored his team –leading 17th goal for the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport visits Providence and Manchester next Friday and Saturday, before hosting Hershey on Sunday.
Up Next TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10th— EDMONTON AT ISLANDERS 7:00PM [MSG+ (Isles Pre-game at 6:30), 88.7 WRHU-FM, 103.9 LI News]
The Islanders begin a 4-game homestand as they host the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the first of a stretch of 11 games in which they Isles will play nine times at the Coliseum.
The Isles dropped a 5-2 decision to Edmonton on January 4th but the Oilers haven’t beaten the Islanders on Long Island since 1999, with the Isles winning each of the last seven games, including one in a shootout.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in “The Skinny” has been gathered from various sources. Follow Eric @ehornick on Twitter & on his blog www.nyiskinny.com.