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The Skinny: Islanders 4, Predators 3

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 66

Isles 4, Nashville 3

Brock Nelson scored the game-winning goal with 6:08 to play on the rebound of a Michael Grabner shot as the Isles re-took sole possession of first place in the Division with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators before an announced sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena.  (Bad weather in Tennessee, including snow, held the actual crowd well below that figure)

The Isles lead the Rangers by 2 points and the Penguins by 6 points in the Metropolitan Division, although both the Blueshirts and Penguins now have three games in hand. The Isles are 7 points ahead of Washington, and the teams are even in games with the Caps.

With the win, the Isles are at least 7 games over .500 at home (23-9-0) and on the road (19-12-3). It’s the first time that has happened since the still-Stanley Cup Champion Islanders ended the 1983-84 regular season with a 28-11-1 record at home and a 22-15-3 on the road.

The Scoring:
1ST PERIOD

11:24    NYI    John Tavares (31) ASST: Josh Bailey (20), Lubomir Visnovsky (10)    1 - 0 NYI    
18:30    NYI    PPG - Anders Lee (22) ASST: Nick Leddy (19), John Tavares (36)    2 - 0 NYI    
19:58    NSH    Colin Wilson (20) ASST: Mike Fisher (19)    2 - 1 NYI    

2ND PERIOD
NONE

3RD PERIOD
08:39    NYI    Nick Leddy (9) ASST: Frans Nielsen (26), Johnny Boychuk (24)    3 - 1 NYI    
10:16    NSH    Mike Ribeiro (13) ASST: Ryan Ellis (14), Roman Josi (36)    3 - 2 NYI    
10:47    NSH    Craig Smith (21) ASST: Filip Forsberg (32)    3 - 3 Tie    
13:52    NYI    Brock Nelson (18) ASST: Michael Grabner (5), Johnny Boychuk (25)    4 - 3 NYI

The Skinny
The Isles are 11-7-2 since the All-Star break… The Isles have scored first in 13 of their last 15 games… Excluding empty-nets, the Isles have been outscored 8-6 in the final 30 seconds of a period this season …Anders Lee broke a tie with Filip Forsberg for 2nd in goals among rookies; Lee trails Mike Hoffman (23) by a single goal… Josh Bailey now has 10 goals in the last 13 games (5-5-10), while Lee, the reigning NHL Rookie of the Month, has points in 11 of the last 14 games (7-8-15)…John Tavares matched a career-high with his 31st goal of the season.  His two points give him 67 on the season, which shares the NHL lead with Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom…An Islander defenseman had at least one point on all four goals…Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk each had multiple points in the same game for the third time this season (including both games vs. Nashville)…The Isles have won 42 games this season, tied with Anaheim for the NHL lead…The Isles improve to 22-3-2 when leading after two periods…Matt Cullen played in his 1200th NHL game; if he plays 6 more, he will knock Brian Leetch out of the Top 100 all-time…The Preds have lost five straight games and are 2-6-1 in their last nine games.

The Suspension
Matt Martin missed the game with a one game suspension; the suspension ended his consecutive game streak at 84.

It’s Magic
With tonight’s win, the Isles magic number for clinching a playoff spot is 21.  Any combination of points won by the Islanders and/or lost by Ottawa will clinch a playoff spot for the Isles.  (While Ottawa is currently in 11th place in the East, they can finish with more points than either Philadelphia or Florida)

Tired vs. Rested
•    The Isles are 7-1-0 when both teams played the night before. This will also happen on March 29th vs. Detroit and April 11th vs Columbus.
•    The Isles are 7-1-0 when they are rested and their opponents are not. This also next happen on March 13th vs Ottawa, March 21st in New Jersey, March 24th vs. Minnesota, April 4th vs Buffalo
•    The Isles are 1-3-0 when their opponents are rested and the Isles are not. This will also happen on March 10th vs the Rangers, and March 14 vs. Montreal.

Metropolitan Division Standings (Top 4)
•    ISLES           42-21-3=87 points / 66 games (35 ROW)  Beat Nashville 4-3

•    NY Rangers  39-17-7=85 points / 63 games (36 ROW)  Idle
•    Pittsburgh     36-18-9=81 points / 63 games (33 ROW)  Idle
•    Washington  35-21-10=80 points / 66 games (32 ROW)  Lost 2-1 to Minnesota

Upcoming Schedule:
•    ISLES:  Saturday @ Florida, Monday @ Toronto, Tuesday vs. NY Rangers
•    NY Rangers: Sunday @ Chicago, Tuesday @ Islanders, Wednesday @ Washington
•    Pittsburgh: Friday @ Anaheim, Saturday @ Los Angeles, Monday @ San Jose
•    Washington: Saturday vs Buffalo, Wednesday vs. NY Rangers

Year of the Fan:
The Isles have sold-out 19 of their 32 home dates this season. The 19 sellouts are the most for the Isles since they also had 21 full houses at the Old Barn in 2001-02.  The Isles have drawn at least 15,000 fans 23 times this season.

What a Season:
The Isles are 42-21-3 thru 65 games.  Only the 1981-82 team had more wins through 66 games. The 42 wins match the 2001-02 squad  (42-28-8-4) for the most wins in a season in the Post-Cup era.

Most wins in first 66 games:
•    45-14-7 in 1981-82
•    42-21-3 in 2014-15
•    41-13-12 in 1978-79
•    41-23-2 in 1983-84
•    40-14-12 in 1977-78
•    39-18-9 in 1976-77
•    38-17-11 in 1980-81

Most points in first 66 games:
•    97 in 1981-82
•    94 in 1978-79
•    92 in 1977-78
•    87 in 2014-15
•    87 in 1976-77
•    87 in 1980-81
•    84 in 1983-84
 
The Isles have won more than 42 games only six times in their history:
1981-82    54
1978-79    51
1983-84    50
1980-81    48
1977-78    48
1976-77    47
2014-15    42
2001-02    42
1982-83    42
1975-76    42

Home Sweet Home
The Isles are 23-9-0 on Coliseum ice; it’s only the fifth time in club history that the Isles have won at least 23 of their first 32 home games (26-3-3 in 1981-82, 25-2-5 in 1977-78, 24-3-5 in 1978-79 and 23-9-0 in 1983-84).  

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, 1-4-0, and 6-1-0 before going 3-2-2 in their last 7.

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.
•    6 streaks of at least 4 games -- First time in the Post-Cup era that the Isles have had at least six winning streaks of at least four games. The Isles had seven separate winning streaks of at least four games in their 1983-84 defense of the Stanley Cup.
•    8 streaks of at least 3 games -- First time in the Post-Cup era that the Isles have had at least eight winning streaks of at least three games. The Isles had nine separate winning streaks of at least three games in their 1983-84 defense of the Stanley Cup.

The Shots:
Isles          5-12-9=26

Nashville   15-5-11=31     

It’s only the sixth time in the last 37 games that the Isles have been outshot.

On the season, the Isles have outshot their opponents 2,225-1,862 for a +363 shot differential.  The 2,225 shots are the most by any team in the NHL this season.

Biggest Differential, Season
•    +363 THIS SEASON

•    +307 in 1976-77
•    +254 in 1986-87
•    +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 2,764 shots this year.

Home and Road
The Islanders are 42-21-3 overall; 23-9-0 at home and 19-12-3 on the road.  

Nashville is 41-18-7 overall; 26-6-1 at home and 15-12-6 on the road.

By Division
The Isles are 19-4-1 in Division games and are 23-17-2 in games against other divisions. They are 9-8-1 vs. the Atlantic Division, 6-5-1 vs. Central Division, and 8-4-0 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 19-4-1 against the Met Division, and are 12-2-1 in their last 15 division matchups.  They are 11-2-0 at home (outscoring opponents 53-34) and 8-2-1 on the road. The Isles are 7-1 in overtime/shootouts against division foes, going 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road.  

The Isles’ next division game will be on March 10th vs. the Rangers.

In the Nets
Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves to improve to 34-13-1 on the season. He is 12-3-4 in his career against Nashville and has established an Islander franchise record with 34 wins this season.

Pekka Rinne made 22 saves but falls to 35-12-3 on the season. He is 3-2-1 in his career against the Isles.  

Power Plays
The Islanders were 1-2 on the power play, while Nashville was 0-1.

The power play is 4-34 (11.7%) in the last 13 games.  The Isles have not scored 2 PP goals in a game since January 4th.

The penalty kill has killed 29 of 33 (87.9%) in the last 12 games; the Isles allowed two goals to Vancouver on February 22nd and two goals to Carolina on February 28th but blanked their other ten opponents.

The Isles are 23-9-0 when they score at least one power play goal and 19-12-3 when they do not.  The Isles are 15-16-0 when they allow at least one power play goal and 27-5-3 when they do not.  

Three is a Magic Number
The Isles are 35-7-1 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 7-14-2 when they do not.  

One Goal Games
The Isles are 24-5-3 in games decided by a single goal including 11-5-0 in regulation. They are 5-1 in games decided in overtime and are 7-2 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.  

The 24 wins are a new franchise record – in 2007-08, 23 of Isles’ 35 wins were by 1 goal.

First Goal (and Second Goal)
The Isles are 26-13-3 when they score first and are 16-8-0 when they allow the opening goal.  However, the Isles are 13-0-0 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 160-141-42 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 343
3.    Mike Milbury 191
4.    Terry Simpson 187
5.    Scott Gordon 181

Most wins by Islander coaches:
1.    Al Arbour 740
2.    Jack Capuano 160
3.    Terry Simpson 81
4.    Peter Laviolette 77
5.    Ted Nolan 74
 
They Said It
Brock Nelson:  “Good bounce-back game for us…(after Nashville tied it) we went back out there, found the goal, and didn’t giving them much.”

Anders Lee: “It was a great team win…great goal by Brock to pull us through.”

They Tweeted It
@DSpogolf @Buccigross you called the #isles Americas team. You my friend, are America's Broadcaster.
@JohnChandlerNBC The @NYIslanders showed a little resilience tonight beating #Preds in Nashville.  Reaction now on @NBCNewYork
@JasonYellin Big win for my @NYIslanders in Nashville. Loved hearing @PeteWeberSports refer to #Isles as "Long Island" #YesYesYes
@CHN_AdamWodon Another daily double for Nelson and Lee in an #Isles win - means another happy night
@szisles That boychuk pass to grabs on the gw goal was beautiful. #isles

The Coach
“I liked the way we were resilient tonight. ..We defended well (at the end of the game). On Anders Lee: . "You want to score goals, you want to learn how to score goals, you go right there. That's where you score. He plays well defensively and plays our structure, but the one thing that I really like about him is that he plays with (Bailey & Tavares) and they know exactly where he's going to be all the time. He goes to those dirty areas, he's a big guy and he's tough to move.”

Back-to-Backs
The Isles are 8-3-1 in the front-end and 8-4-0 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.  The Isles have swept 5 sets of back-to-backs, are 1-1-0 in six sets and are 0-1-1 in one set.

The next back-to-back set is March 9th in Toronto and March 10th vs. the Rangers.

Leading Ice Men
Travis Hamonic led all Isles with 23:59 of ice-time; Shea Weber led Nashville in ice-time with 26:16.  

Isles record by ice-time leaders: Johnny Boychuk (13-5-1), Travis Hamonic (19-3-2), Lubomir Visnovsky (2-1-0) John Tavares (2-6-0), Thomas Hickey (3-0-0), Nick Leddy (0-3-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0), Kyle Okposo (0-1-0), Brian Strait (1-0-0) and Calvin deHaan (1-2-0).

John Tavares led Isles forwards with 20:32 of ice-time. Isles record by Forward ice-time leaders: John Tavares (25-20-3), Kyle Okposo (12-1-0), Ryan Strome (1-0-0), Brock Nelson (1-1-0), Anders Lee (1-0-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0), Casey Cizikas (1-0-0), and Josh Bailey (0-1-0).  

In the Circle
The Islanders won 23 of 53 draws (43%).  John Tavares won 9 of 15 for the Isles but his teammates won only 14 of 38; Mike Fisher won 12 of 21 for Nashville. The Isles won 18 of 38 draws in the first two periods but only 5 of 15 in the third period. The Isles lost all three draws on the power play but won 2 of 3 draws on the penalty kill.

Heavy Hitters
The Isles were out-hit by Nashville 23-17.  Johnny Boychuk and Calvin deHaan led the Islanders with 4 hits each.

Matt Martin leads the NHL with 318 hits while Cal Clutterbuck is 2nd with 278.  It’s the third time in his career Martin has recorded at least 300 hits; he has the two highest totals in NHL history (since 2005):

Most hits, season:
1.     Matt Martin, NYI 374 in 2011-12
2.     Matt Martin, NYI 359 in 2013-14
3.     Cal Clutterbuck, Min 356 in 2009-10    

There were no fights in the game. The Isles have been involved in 14 fights this season: Martin (9), Hamonic (3), Lee (1), Strome (1) and 11 of the 14 have been against Metropolitan Division opponents.

Giving Up the Body
The Isles were credited with 16 blocked shots; Johnny Boychuk led the Isles with 3.

For the Corsi Crowd
Nashville finished with a total Corsi advantage of 67-51. The Corsi stat measures shots attempted, both for and against (including blocks).

Josh Bailey led the Isles with a +5 even-strength Corsi rating; he was also on-ice for a team-leading 57% of Corsi For events.  Cody Franson led Nashville with a +12 rating; every Predator has a + Corsi rating.

Head of the Class
Islander Captain John Tavares has 382 career points; he is 81 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.

This Team is Deep!
John Tavares has been held pointless 22 times this season and the Isles are 15-6-1 in those games.  Prior to this season the Isles had won only 40 of the 151 games in which Tavares was scoreless.

All-time Winners
The Islanders improve to 27 games over all-time NHL .500 (1447-1420-453 in 3,320 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 318 consecutive regular season NHL games, while Nelson has played 119 consecutive regular season Islander games.

Missing Men
Kyle Okposo and Mikhail Grabovski are on injured reserve. Newcomer Tyler Kennedy missed the game with an upper body injury.  Casey Cizikas & Eric Boulton were activated from IR and replaced Matt Martin (suspended) and Kael Mouillierat (healthy) in the lineup. Brian Strait and Matt Donovan was scratched.

The Isles have lost 243 games this season due to injury/illness.

All-time Islander Leader Board:
John Tavares has:
•    167 goals (13th all-time, 1 behind Ziggy Palffy and 17 behind Billy Harris)
•    215 assists (15th all-time, 34 behind Tomas Jonsson and 44 behind Billy Harris)
•    382 points (13th all-time and 61 behind Billy Harris)
•    416 games played (36th among Islander skaters all-time, 6 behind Dave Langevin, 9 behind Greg Gilbert and 10 behind Jason Blake)

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, 8 behind Pierre Turgeon and 10 behind Frans Nielsen)
•    298 points (18th all-time, 33 behind Ziggy Palffy and 35 behind Tomas Jonsson)
•    436 games played (32nd among Islander skaters all-time, 14 behind Scott Lachance and 23 behind Trent Hunter)

Frans Nielsen has:
•    96 goals (29th all-time, 3 behind Trent Hunter and 5 behind Anders Kallur)
•    195 assists (16th all-time and 20 behind John Tavares)
•    291 points (21st all-time, 1 behind Duane Sutter, 4 behind Mariusz Czerkawski and 7 behind Kyle Okposo)
•    512 games played (21st among Islander skaters, and 2 behind Dave Lewis)

Josh Bailey has:
•    131 assists (tied-32nd all-time with Trent Hunter and 1 behind Jason Blake)
•    210 points (39th all-time, 1 behind Anders Kallur and 3 behind Jean Potvin & Garry Howatt)
•    460 games played (29th among Islander skaters and 10 behind Mariusz Czerkawski)

Michael Grabner has:
•    89 goals (36th all-time, 3  behind Travis Green and 4 behind Garry Howatt & Greg Gilbert)

Season Series Stats
The Isles sweep the season series 2 games to 0 (and 4 points to 0).

It’s the first Isles win in Nashville since 2002, stopping a six-game losing streak.  It’s also the first time that the Isles have beaten Nashville twice in one season.

It Happened at the Coliseum … on MARCH 5th
19 years ago tonight (1996) – Zigmund Palffy scored three goals for his second consecutive hat trick as the Isles defeated the Boston Bruins 5-3.  The win snapped a 4-game losing streak for the Isles.

Palffy told Newsday’s Jim Smith:  "I'm not doing it myself. If you score goals, you need a lot of help . . . I have good guys beside me. I'm getting nice passes."   However, Palffy’s coach-general manager, Mike Milbury knew that he had something special going: “He's fun to watch. He's a blossoming star . . . Your team has to have success. That's when you're a star - when you can carry a team to wins. The league is littered with the Mike Bullards who have great stats. But I think Ziggy's going to be a star."

Palffy became the only Islander not named Mike Bossy to record a hat trick in consecutive games (Bossy did it twice).  He had spent some of his pre-game preparation watching tapes of Bossy, "It's not like I have to do it the same way. I'm just watching to learn. I watch tapes of Mike Bossy flying around the tops of the circles and snapping shots at the net."

Palffy’s hat trick goal broke a 3-3 tie at 5:47 of the third period and it gave Ziggy, who had also assisted on a Wendel Clark goal a 4-point game.  Dan Plante added a late goal for the final margin, spoiling the 1,000th NHL game of Boston’s Joe Mullen.

Also on this date: (2011) – Andrew MacDonald scored two goals and Al Montoya made 21 saves as the Isles beat St. Louis 5-2. No Islander defenseman has scored twice in a game since.

Also on this date: (2013) - Radek Martinek scored his first goal for the Islanders in nearly two years and it turned out to be the game-winning goal as Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves and the Islanders ended Montreal’s 11-game point streak (8-0-3) with a 6-3 win over the Canadiens.

All-time, the Isles have played nine March 5th games at the Coliseum and finish with a 5-4-0 record on this date at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale.

On The Farm
Bridgeport has lost nine straight games (tying a franchise record) to fall to 21-28-5-1 on the season.   The Sound Tigers travel to Lehigh Valley on Friday and to Worcester on Saturday.

Up Next
SATURDAY, MARCH 7th— ISLANDERS AT FLORIDA 7:00PM
[MSG+ (Isles Pre-game at 6:30), 88.7 WRHU-FM, 103.9 LI News]


The road trip continues on Saturday in Florida against the Panthers.   The Panthers, despite playing without their top two goalies, two defensemen and Jaromir Jagr, forced a shootout before losing to Dallas tonight, staying just four points behind Boston for the final wild card spot.

The teams have split a pair of games this season, with the Isles winning in a shootout in Sunrise in November and the Panthers defeating the Islanders 4-2 at the Coliseum in February.
Sunrise has been a difficult spot for the Isles in recent years; the Isles are  4-9-1 in their last 14 trips (and three of their four wins have come in shootouts.

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.

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