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The Skinny: Islanders 4, Sabres 3 (SO)

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
The Skinny” 

Game 82
Isles 4, Buffalo 3 (shootout)

Anders Lee scored two goals and Brock Nelson scored the tying goal with 3:44 to play before scoring the only goal in the shootout as the Islanders rallied to defeat Buffalo 4-3 before a crowd of 18,804 at the First Niagara Center.  The Isles have earned 36 points (17-5-2) in their last 22 road games; it’s the first time in franchise history that the Isles have earned 36 points over a stretch of 24 road games (single season) in their history.
The Scoring:

1st Period
10:27    BUF    Jamie McBain (6) Snap shot - ASST: Connor Knapp (1)     1 - 0 BUF   

2nd Period
07:23    BUF    Matt Ellis (4) Tip-in - ASST: Marcus Foligno (12), Jake McCabe (1)     2 - 0 BUF   
16:37    NYI    PPG - Anders Lee (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Frans Nielsen (32), Josh Bailey (29) 2 - 1 BUF

3rd Period
00:17    NYI    Anders Lee (9) Backhand shot - ASST: Josh Bailey (30), Frans Nielsen (33) 2 - 2 Tie   
09:51    BUF    Torrey Mitchell (2) Tip-in - ASST: Rasmus Ristolainen (2), Henrik Tallinder (6) 3 - 2 BUF   
16:16    NYI    Brock Nelson (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Travis Hamonic (15)     3 - 3 Tie   

OT Period

The Shootout
Ennis (NG), Nielsen (NG), Hodgson (NG), Nelson (G), Leino (NG)

Frans Nielsen scored on 8 of 15 attempts this season…It was the 4th time in the eight seasons that the shootout existed that a shootout was needed to decide the season’s final game.  The Isles improve to 57-41 all-time in shootouts.  Only Pittsburgh (61) and the Rangers (58) have more all-time shootout wins; only Pittsburgh (.656) has a better win percentage than the Isles (.582; tied with Dallas).
Team     GP     W    L     Win  Pct
PIT    93    61    32       .656
NYR    101    58    43       .574
NYI    98    57    41       .582
DAL    98    57    41       .582
BUF    103    57    46       .553

The Skinny: 
The Isles finish the season with exactly 79 points for the fourth time in the last six full seasons…Playing without John Tavares, the Isles are 12-7-3 since the Olympic break… The Isles are 21-11-5 with Ryan Strome in the lineup… With the win, the Isles will finish over NHL-.500 on the road for the first time in a full season since 2006-07…Frans Nielsen had two assists to complete his career year; he matched Kyle Okposo’s career point total of 254, which is 24th in Isles history …The Isles scored seven goals in their final three games and all seven were scored by rookies—2 by Ryan Strome, 2 by Brock Nelson and 3 by Anders Lee….It’s the second time in his career that Anders Lee has scored twice in a game…  Josh Bailey had two more assists, continuing his career pattern of strong finishes. Bailey is 29-44-73 in 124 March/April games and 37-67-104 in 282 October thru February games. He was 2-7-9 in eight games this month… It’s the 10th time this season that the Isles rallied to win after trailing after 40 minutes, which is the most by an NHL team since Vancouver won 11 times in 2009-10… The Sabres finished with only 150 goals scored, which is the fewest in the NHL since expansion…Isles are 12-1-3 in the last 16 games (dating back to last season) called by Jiggs McDonald. 

The Finale:
Isles improve to 22-13-6 in all-time regular season finales, stopping a five-game winless streak (0-3-2 since defeating the Rangers, 4-3 in a shootout, in 2008)

Isles are 20-16-5 in all-time road finales, stopping a five-game winless streak (0-4-1 since defeating the Rangers, 4-3 in a shootout, in 2008)

Only 10 of the Isles dressed tonight were dressed in the regular season opener in October in New Jersey; only 8 of the Isles dressed tonight played in game 6 vs. Pittsburgh last spring.

The Shots:
Isles       6-9-9-1=26
Buffalo  11-10-14-4=39

Career Years (excluding rookies, and others with limited prior NHL experience)

A number of Isles had career years in 2013-14:
•    Josh Bailey established new career highs in assists (30) and points (38)
•    Casey Cizikas established new career highs in assists (10) and points (16), while matching last year’s goal total (6).
•    Matt Martin established a new career high in goals (8), while matching career high in points (14)
•    Colin McDonald established new career highs in goal (8) and points (18), while matching last year’s assist total (10).
•    Frans Nielsen went 25-33-58, establishing new highs in all three categories.
•    Kyle Okposo went 27-42-69, also establishing new highs in all three categories.

•    Games: Thomas Hickey with 82
•    Goals: Kyle Okposo with 27
•    Assists: Kyle Okposo/John Tavares with 42
•    Points: John Tavares with 69
•    Plus/Minus: Thomas Hickey with +5
•    Pen Mins: Matt Carkner with 149
•    PP Goals: John Tavares with 8
•    SH Goals: Cal Clutterbuck and Michael Grabner each had 3
•    GW Goals: Kyle Okposo and John Tavares each had 4
•    OT Goals: Michael Grabner had 2
•    Shots: Kyle Okposo with 195
•    Shooting Percentage (current players): Frans Nielsen 15.0%
•    Average ice-time: Andrew MacDonald 25:25 (as Isle); Travis Hamonic 25:00
•    Face-off Percentages (minimum 300): Frans Nielsen 49.3%

Youth Movement
The Isles dressed 11 rookies for the third straight game: Kevin Czuczman, Matt Donovan, Brett Gallant, Mike Halmo, Anders Lee, Scott Mayfield, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson, Ryan Strome, John Persson and Justin Johnson. 

The Future
The Isles are the 5th seed heading in to Tuesday's draft lottery.  The Isles have a 8.1% chance to win the lottery and be awarded the first pick in the June Entry Draft.

Home and Road
The Islanders are 34-37-11 overall, 13-19-9 at home (including 0-1-0 at Yankee Stadium) and 21-18-2 on the road. The Isles are 10-4-2 in their last 16 games.  While their 13-19-9 home record is their worst on home-ice for a full season since 2000-01, the Isles have earned 44 points on the road for the first time since 2006-07.

Over the last two seasons, the Isles are 23-30-12 (58 points in 65 games) at home and 35-24-6 (76 points in 65 games) on the road.  The Isles have finished above NHL-.500 at home only once in the past seven seasons.

This was the first complete season that the Isles earned at least nine more points on the road than at home.  The Isles earned 32 points on the road and 23 points at home during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

Buffalo is 21-51-10 overall; they finish 13-21-7 at home and 8-30-3 on the road. The Sabres will be the top seed heading into Tuesday’s draft lottery.

20 Win Club
This is the eighth time in club history that the Isles have won 20 road games in a season:
•    1976-77 23-10-7
•    1978-79 20-12-8
•    1980-81 25-12-3
•    1981-82 21-13-6
•    1983-84 22-15-3
•    1992-93 20-18-4
•    2001-02 21-15-3-2
•    2013-14 21-18-2

By Division
The Isles are 10-16-4 in Division games and are 24-21-7 in games against other divisions. They are 13-7-4 vs. the Atlantic Division, 7-6-1 vs. Central Division, and 4-8-2 vs. the Pacific Division.

The Isles won the season series from New Jersey 3-2-0 but did not have a winning record against any other division opponent. They are 1-3-0 against Carolina, 1-2-1 against Columbus, 2-3-0 against New York, 1-3-0 against Philadelphia, 1-2-1 against Pittsburgh, and 1-1-2 against Washington.

This was the last of 12 consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents to end the regular season.  The Isles went 8-2-2 in this stretch.

In the Nets
Anders Nilsson made 36 saves as he improves to 8-7-2 on the season.  Nilsson is 4-0 in shootouts in his career.

Evgeni Nabokov finishes the season 15-14-8, with 4 shutouts. Nabby is 350-221-84 in his NHL career and is 57-43-18 over the last three seasons with the Isles. Among players who have appeared in at least 50 games for the Isles, only Chico Resch (2.56) has a lower GAA as an Isle than Nabokov (2.59).

It’s the first time since 2001-02 (Chris Osgood and Garth Snow) that the Isles have two goaltenders with records above NHL-.500 (each with at least ten decisions). 

Connor Knapp made 22 saves for Buffalo in his first NHL start.  Knapp also recorded an assist for Buffalo.

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

The Isles are 21-8-5 when they score at least one power play goal and 13-29-6 when they do not.  The Isles are 14-21-4 when they allow at least one power play goal and 20-16-7 when they do not. 

The Isles are 17-107 in the last 30 games on the power play and have allowed 18 power play goals in 82 times short over the last 21 games.  

The Isles went 49-276 on the power play this season and allowed 58 goals in 265 times short.

Feast or Famine
The Isles PP went 10-33 in the first 10 games, before going 7-79 in the next 24 games. They rebounded to go 11-32 in the following 11 games but are only 21-132 in their last 37 games.

Three is a Magic Number
The Isles are 27-10-4 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 7-27-7 when they do not. 

Comeback Kids
The Isles are 17-9-8 when they score first and are 17-28-3 when they allow the opening goal.  The Isles allowed the first goal in 29 of their last 44 games.
This was the 8th time this season that the Isles won a game that they trailed by a 2-0 score.

Second to The One
Jack Capuano became the 2nd coach in Islander history to win 100 games in Toronto on January 7th and became the 2nd coach in Islander history to coach 250 games on January 27th against Boston. He is 2nd on the all-time Islander list in both games coached (277) and wins (118).

Most games coached (Islanders):
1.    Al Arbour 1,500
2.    Jack Capuano 277
3.    Mike Milbury 191
4.    Terry Simpson 187
5.    Scott Gordon 181

Most wins by Islander coaches:
1.    Al Arbour 740
2.    Jack Capuano 118
3.    Terry Simpson 81
4.    Peter Laviolette 77
5.    Ted Nolan 74

They Said It
Brock Nelson: “Last few games…everybody has been playing hard, and I think it showed.”

Anders Lee: “I think the last 40 minutes...we were hard on the puck.  We battled back.”

They Tweeted It
@JimGolembowski  I have been more inspired by watching Justin Johnson's 2 games than some others' 15 year careers.He's everyman #isles
@rphoey10  Many of the #Isles kids looked good this year. Lee, De Haan, and Nelson stood out to me. Hope they can build upon this years success.
@Jnardi One last run at the mad house on the meadowbrook. Fort neverlose. One more at the old barn. It's all I want #isles
@IslesFan83 Congrats to the #Isles rookies. You all have a lot to be proud of. This team is fantastic and I await great things next season. Happy Summer

The Coach
“I’m proud of the way they battled for each other…We’ll be back next year…. We had that excitement last year and we will move forward to do what we need to do to make our team better and get back where we have to be.”

The Isles were 8-8-2 in the front-end and 8-8-2 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.  The Isles swept five back-to-backs:  November 1st/2nd vs. Ottawa and Boston, January 6th/7th vs. Dallas and Toronto, January 20th/21st vs. Philadelphia and the Rangers, April 1st/2nd vs. Florida and Ottawa and April 10th/11th vs. Montreal and New Jersey.

In the 18 sets of back-to-backs, the Isles earned 4 points five times, 3 points once, 2 points five times, 1 point three times and no points on four occasions. 

Leading Ice Men
Travis Hamonic led the Isles with 27:35 of ice-time while Jamie McBain led Buffalo with 25:41.

The Isles are 15-17-6 when MacDonald leads in ice-time, are 18-15-5 when Hamonic leads, are 1-0-0 when deHaan leads, are 0-1-0 when Okposo leads, are 0-1-0 when Strait leads, are 0-2-0 when Tavares leads and are 0-1-0 when Vanek leads.

In the Circle
The Islanders won 31 of 65 draws (48%). Brock Nelson won 7 of 9 for the Isles; Zenon Konpoka won 8 of 11 for Buffalo.

Heavy Hitters
The Isles out-hit Buffalo 23-17.  Matt Martin was one of three Isles with three hits. Martin is the NHL hit leader for the third straight season, finishing with 359 hits.  He now has the two highest hit 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

Justin Johnson fought Adam Scott in the first period, Brett Gallant fought former Islander Zenon Kenopka in the second period and Scott Mayfield fought Nicolas Deslaurier in the third period. The Isles have received 39 fighting penalties this season: Martin (10), Carkner (9), Boulton (8), Gallant (3), McDonald (2), Halmo (2), Hamonic (2), Johnson (1), Mayfield (1) and Okposo (1).

Giving Up the Body
The Isles were credited with 10 blocked shots, including a team-high four blocks for Travis Hamonic.

All-time Winners
The Islanders improve to six games over all-time NHL .500 (1405-1399-450 in 3,254 games). The Isles have been 1-under all-time .500 after six games this season and have gone 4-0-2 in the following game. 

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.

Thomas Hickey is the Islanders’ reigning ironman.  He has played 83 consecutive regular season games, and was the only Islander to have played in every game this season. 

Hickey is only the second Isles defenseman since Janne Niinimaa (2003-04) to appear in all 82 games.  Mark Streit did so twice, in 2009-10 and 2011-12.

Missing Men
John Tavares, Eric Boulton, Brian Strait, Lubomir Visnovsky, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Calvin deHaan, Cal Clutterbuck and Johan Sundstrom are all out injured. Radek Martinek was scratched.
The Isles have lost 251 games this season due to injury. 

Career Wins, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 688
2. Roberto Luongo 373
3. Evgeni Nabokov 350
4. Nikolai Khabibulin 333
5. Henrik Lundqvist 309

Career Wins
17. Rogie Vachon 355
18. Evgeni Nabokov 350
19. Gump Worsley 335
20. Nikolai Khabibulin 333

Career Shutouts, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 124
2. Roberto Luongo 66
3. Evgeni Nabokov 59
4. Tomas Vokoun 51
5. Henrik Lundqvist 50

Career Shutouts
16 Turk Broda 62
17 Evgeni Nabokov 59
18 John Ross Roach 58

Career Goals as an Islander
15    Mariusz Czerkawski    145
16    John Tavares     136
17    Jason Blake    127

27    Trent Hunter     99
28    Kyle Okposo    99
29    Mikko Makela     95
29    David Volek     95
31    Randy Wood     94
32    Greg Gilbert     93
32    Garry Howatt     93
34    Travis Green     92
35    Butch Goring    87
36    Frans Nielsen    85
37    Tomas Jonsson    84
38    Michael Grabner 82
39    Wayne Merrick    81
39    Dave Scatchard    81

Career Assists as an Islander
16    Ed Westfall    181
17    John Tavares    179
18    Kenny Jonsson    175
19    Alexei Yashin    171
20    Duane Sutter    171
21    Frans Nielsen    169
22    Jean Potvin    167
23    Jeff Norton    166
24    Zigmund Palffy    163
25    Kyle Okposo    155   
26    David Volek    154
Career Games as an Islander (skaters)
24    Eddie Westfall    493
25    Radek Martinek 479
26    Gerry Hart    476
29    Scott Lachance 450
30    Frans Nielsen     447
31    Jason Blake      426

34    Wayne Merrick  411
35    Josh Bailey     406
36    Jean Potvin    402
37    David Volek     396
38    Bert Marshall    392
39    Kyle Okposo     390
40    Travis Green     388
41    Anders Kallur     383
42    Randy Wood     381
43    John Tavares     350
44    Dave Scatchard    347

Career Points as an Islander
16    Ziggy Palffy    331
17    John Tavares     315
18    Mariusz Czerkawski    295
22    Jason Blake    258
22    Steve Thomas    258
24    Kyle Okposo     254
24    Frans Nielsen     254

26    David Volek    249

Season Series Stats
The Isles win the season series 2 games to 1 (and 5 points to 3).

The Isles are 3-0-2 in their last five games against the Sabres, including 2-0-1 this season.

Happy Anniversary
32 years ago tonight (4-13-82):  John Tonelli scored 6:19 into overtime as the Islanders completed a remarkable rally to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning the fifth and deciding game by a score of 4-3.  Mike McEwen and Tonelli had scored at 14:33 and 17:39 of the third period to force the game into the extra session.  The rally was precipitated in part by a move by legendary coach Al Arbour who pulled goaltender Billy Smith.  At the time, the rules allowed for a warm-up period for the replacement goalie, which Arbour used to rest his top lines.  The rule was changed a couple of years later and Howie Rose frequently notes the “Al Arbour rule” when a replacement goalie has to come in and play without a warm-up.

Also on this date:  (1994) The Isles clinch a playoff berth behind a 2-0 Ron Hextall shutout in Tampa Bay; (1984) Anders Kallur scored 7:35 into overtime as the Isles beat the Caps 5-4 to even their series at 1 game each.

All-time, the Isles are 1-1-6 in regular season play and 4-3 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on this date

On The Farm
Springfield scored the winning goal with 5.4 seconds left as the Sound Tigers fell to 27-38-2-6 on the season.  Bridgeport hosts Adirondack in a make-up game on Monday to close out their home season.

Up Next

And (Semi) Finally…
82 games… 82 Skinny’s.  A perfect season…at least in attendance. Thanks so much to the Isles PR department and to all of my MSG colleagues. 

But most importantly, thanks to all of you who read (and comment on) The Skinny! 

And Finally…
4 words: UNION COLLEGE. National Champions.   Congratulations to my alma mater!

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.

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