Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Islanders continue to be The Comeback Kids, as Thomas Vanek’s power play goal with 4:38 to play proved to be the winner as the Isles rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits for a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers before a sellout crowd of 18,006 at Madison Square Garden. The win keeps the Isles within 5 points of the final playoff spot. The Isles are 8-3-0 in 2014 and are 12-5-0 in their last 17 games as they climb within 3 games of NHL-.500 for the first time since November 19th.
The Scoring: 1st Period 01:02 NYR Rick Nash (15) Wrist shot - ASST: Chris Kreider (16) 1 - 0 NYR 11:07 NYR Rick Nash (16) Wrist shot - ASST: Dan Girardi (12), Chris Kreider (17) 2 - 0 NYR 17:22 NYI Matt Martin (3) Snap shot - ASST: John Tavares (37), Kyle Okposo (30) 2 - 1 NYR
2nd Period 09:34 NYR PPG - Chris Kreider (13) Tip-in - ASST: Derek Stepan (23), Brad Richards (25) 3 - 1 NYR 13:22 NYI Thomas Hickey (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Kyle Okposo (31), Thomas Vanek (27) 3 - 2 NYR 16:36 NYI Colin McDonald (4) Wrist shot - ASST: John Tavares (38), Peter Regin (4) 3 - 3 Tie
3rd Period 15:22 NYI PPG - Thomas Vanek (18) Tip-in -ASST: John Tavares (39), Frans Nielsen (24) 4 - 3 NYI 19:53 NYI EN - Frans Nielsen (17) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE 5 - 3 NYI
The Skinny: The Isles have outscored their opponents 20-6 in the third period over the past 13 games…The Isles now have 21 wins, evenly divided among game they led after two periods (7-4-3), games they trailed after 2 periods (an NHL-leading 7; 7-17-2), and games that are tied after 40 minutes (7-3-2). …Thomas Vanek has a point in his last 6 games and in 16 of the last 17 games…Frans Nielsen extended his assist streak to five straight games… John Tavares earned three assists, combining with six other teammates in the scoring of those goals; it’s his 2nd three-assist and 4th three-point game of the season. Tavares is second in NHL scoring (23-39-62)… The Rangers had allowed two goals or fewer in each of their last seven games, and in five straight games at home…The Isles have recorded division wins in consecutive days after winning only three of their first 17 games…Rick Nash has scored two first period goals in consecutive games for the Rangers and has 5 goals in his last 3 games…The Rangers fall to 21-4-1 when they score first…Frans Nielsen’s empty-netter gives the Isles four players with at least 17 goals, joining Chicago as the only teams that can make that claim; Nielsen’s 17 goals match a career high…The Rangers are 0-4-0 this season when attempting to extend a winning streak to four…Kyle Okposo and John Tavares each recorded their 16th multi-point game of the season…Okposo now has 51 points, one shy of his career high…The Isles have scored at least 5 goals in consecutive games at The Garden for the first time since 1996…The Isles swept a back-to-back set, both against Division opponents, for the first time since defeating Philadelphia and New Jersey in the final two games of the 2006-07 season in order to qualify for the playoffs. What a Month! The Isles improve to 8-3-0 in January, with five games to play. It’s the first time since 2003 that the Isles have earned 8 wins in January and matches their most January wins since they earned 9 in January 1990. The Isles have earned ten victories in January only once in franchise history, going 10-4-1 in 1980 (April and May were pretty good that year, too!)
Never in Doubt The Isles and Sabres are the only teams in the NHL to win more games when allowing the opening goal than when scoring it themselves; 12 of the 21 Isles win have come in games that they have allowed the opening goal The Isles have trailed by a 3-1 score five times since Christmas. They are 4-1 in those five games. The Isles have rallied from a 2-goal deficit to win for an NHL-leading eighth time this season, including six times on the road.
New York, New York John Tavares is the first Islander to have a 3-assist game at Madison Square Garden since Matthias Weinhandl and Alexei Yashin each assisted on all three Islander goals in a 3-1 win on November 23, 2002.
The Shots: Isles 16-7-14= 37 Rangers 12-8-13=33
Home and Road The Islanders are 21-24-7 overall, 8-9-7 at home and 13-15-0 on the road. The Isles have won 7 of 9, are 12-5-0 in their last 17 and are 13-6-2 in their last 21 games overall. The Rangers are 27-22-3 overall; they are 12-12-3 at home and 15-10-0 on the road. The Rangers had gone 11-3-1 since losing to the Islanders on December 20th.
By Division The Isles are 5-11-3 in Division games and are 16-13-4 in games against other divisions. They are 7-4-3 vs. the Atlantic Division, 6-4-0 vs. Central Division, and 3-5-1 vs. the Pacific Division.
In the Nets Kevin Poulin made 30 saves in his first start at Madison Square Garden. Poulin improves to 11-14-0 on the season, including 7-2-0 in his last nine decisions. Cam Talbot made 32 saves for the Rangers but falls to 10-4 on the season. It’s only the second time this season that he has allowed four goals.
Power Plays The Islanders were 1-5 while the Rangers were 1-4. The Isles are 13-6-4 when they score at least one power play goal and 8-18-3 when they do not. The Isles are 10-14-3 when they allow at least one power play goal and 11-10-4 when they do not. The Islander special teams are much improved as of late. The power play is 15-57 (26.3%) over the last 17 games while the Isles have killed 46 of 54 (85.2%) over the last 18 games while scoring three shorthanded goals. Tale of Three Seasons The Isles PP went 10-33 in the first 10 games, before going 7-79 in the next 24 games. Since then, the Isles are 15-58 in the last 18 games (including 13-44 in the last 11 games (29.5%)). Three is a Magic Number The Isles are 19-5-2 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 2-19-5 when they do not. Comeback Kids The Isles are 9-6-5 when they score first and are 12-18-2 when they allow the opening goal. The Isles have allowed the first goal in 12 of their last 14 games.
Second to The One Jack Capuano became the 2nd coach in Islander history to win 100 games in Toronto on January 7th. He is 2nd on the all-time Islander list in both games coached (247) and wins (105).
Most games coached (Islanders): 1. Al Arbour 1,500 2. Jack Capuano 247 3. Mike Milbury 191 4. Terry Simpson 187 5. Scott Gordon 181
Most wins by Islander coaches: 1. Al Arbour 740 2. Jack Capuano 105 3. Terry Simpson 81 4. Peter Laviolette 77 5. Ted Nolan 74
They Said It Thomas Vanek: I guess we’re used to (coming from behind). Over the past month (John, Kyle and I) have been on the same page every night….Johnny had a good tip…I saw the goalie go down…just wanted to pull it around him. Thomas Hickey: (The Rangers) are a good hockey team…we just want to play the right way.” They Tweeted It @liam_mchugh (of NBC Sports): He lacks the star power, but right now John Tavares is making his case as the best pro athlete in New York. 3 more assists vs Rangers. @BruceBeck4NY Tremendous comeback win by @NYIslanders who have now won 10 of 13! @JoMazzNYC Islanders with a gorgeous game winning goal tonight!! Let's go Islanders!! #Isles over the #Rangers .. AGAIN!! #Hockey @Builttoexcel The #Isles beat 3rd place Philly yesterday, the 2nd place Blueshirts just now...and have 1st place Pitt Thursday. The Coach “We did some good things in the first …Casey’s line was solid again, and he got us going… Our conditioning was good tonight; it was a good effort. (Even in the back-to-backs) we got the job done.”
Back-to-Backs The Isles are 6-6-0 in the front-end and 5-5-2 on the back end of back-to-backs this season. This is their third sweep: November 1st/2nd vs. Ottawa and Boston; January 6th/7th vs. Dallas and Toronto. In the twelve sets of back-to-backs, they have earned 4 points three times, 3 points once, 2 points four times, 1 point once and no points on three occasions. The Islanders do not play back-to-back again until they host New Jersey and Florida on March 1st and 2nd.
Head of the Class John Tavares has 312 career points; he is 78 points ahead of Matt Duchene for most among 2009 draft picks. No other player from that draft is anywhere close. Tavares also has more goals and more assists than any other player from that draft.
Leading Ice Men Andrew MacDonald played 25:21 to lead the Isles for the 33rd time this season. Ryan McDonagh led the Rangers with 26:19 of ice-time. The Isles are 14-14-5 when MacDonald leads them in ice-time and 7-10-2 when Hamonic leads them.
In the Circle The Islanders won 36 of 68 draws. Brock Nelson won 11 of 15 draws for the Isles; Derek Stepan won 13 of 21 for the Rangers. Heavy Hitters The Isles were out-hit 23-15. Matt Martin led the Isles with three hits; his 252 hits lead the NHL by a wide margin. He had now recorded at least 200 hits in four straight seasons. There were no fights. The Isles have been involved in 19 fights this season: Martin (6), Boulton (5), Carkner (5), McDonald (2), and Okposo (1).
Giving Up the Body The Isles were credited with 16 blocked shots. Calvin deHaan and Thomas Hickey each led the way with five blocks. Andrew MacDonald extended his NHL-leading total to 172 with 1 block.
Six Over All-Time .500 The Islanders climb to six games over all-time NHL .500 (1392-1386-446 in 3,224 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. It’s the first time since November 19th that the Isles have been six games over NHL-.500. The Isles have finished every season since 1977-78 above all-time NHL .500 and have not been more than 1 game under NHL-.500 since January 11, 1978.
Ironmen Frans Nielsen is the Islanders’ reigning ironman. He has played 182 consecutive games, and is one of four Islanders to have played in every game this season. Other ironman streaks: Andrew Mac Donald (153), Matt Martin (113), and Thomas Hickey (53).
Century Club Andrew MacDonald has the 4th longest consecutive game streak for a defenseman in Islander history: 1. Denis Potvin 11/29/1975-1/17/1979 262 2. Bryan McCabe 10/7/1995-2/4/1998 220 (*)(**) 3. Gerry Hart 3/1/1975-11/22/1977 198 4. Andrew MacDonald 12/19/11- CURRENT 153 5. Janne Niinimaa 3/13/2004-1/7/2006 136 (**) 6. Ken Morrow 3/1/1980-12/29/1981 134 (*) 7. Mark Streit 10/8/2011-4/26/2013 130 8. Travis Hamonic 2/24/2012-1/12/2014 117 9. Travis Hamonic 11/24/2011– 2/4/2012 113 (*) 10. Jean Potvin 10/23/1975-1/2/1977 110 11. Kenny Jonsson 12/26/1996-2/4/1998 104
(*) Start of NHL career. (**) Entire career with Islanders
Missing Men Lubomir Visnovsky and Evgeni Nabokov remain on injured reserve. Travis Hamonic missed his fifth game with an upper body injury. Radek Martinek and Peter Regin replaced Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton in the lineup. The Isles have lost 138 games this season due to injury.
Nobody Beats the Viz The Isles were 19-12-4 last season and are 3-3-2 this season with Lubomir Visnovsky in the lineup. They were 5-5-3 last season and are 18-21-5 this season without him in the lineup.
Career Goals as an Islander 15 Mariusz Czerkawski 145 16 John Tavares 135 17 Jason Blake 127
28 Mikko Makela 95 28 David Volek 95 30 Randy Wood 94 31 Greg Gilbert 93 31 Garry Howatt 93 33 Travis Green 92 33 Kyle Okposo 92 35 Butch Goring 87 36 Tomas Jonsson 84 37 Wayne Merrick 81 37 Dave Scatchard 81 39 Marty McInnis 79 40 Miroslav Satan 78 41 Michael Grabner 77 41 Frans Nielsen 77 43 Claude Lapointe 76
Career Assists as an Islander 16 Ed Westfall 181 17 John Tavares 176 18 Kenny Jonsson 175 19 Alexei Yashin 171 20 Duane Sutter 171 21 Jean Potvin 167 22 Jeff Norton 166 23 Zigmund Palffy 163 24 Frans Nielsen 160 25 David Volek 154 26 Mariusz Czerkawski 150 27 Travis Green 145 28 Kyle Okposo 144 29 Steve Thomas 140
Career Games as an Islander (skaters) 24 Eddie Westfall 493 25 Radek Martinek 478 26 Gerry Hart 476
32 Dave Langevin 422 33 Frans Nielsen 419 34 Wayne Merrick 411 35 Jean Potvin 402 36 David Volek 396 37 Bert Marshall 392 38 Travis Green 388 39 Anders Kallur 383 40 Randy Wood 381 41 Josh Bailey 376 42 Kyle Okposo 370 43 Dave Scatchard 347 44 Alexei Yashin 346 45 Mark Parrish 345 46 John Tavares 342 47 Marty McInnis 337
Career Points as an Islander 16 Ziggy Palffy 331 17 John Tavares 311 18 Mariusz Czerkawski 295
25 Ray Ferraro 238 26 Travis Green 237 26 Frans Nielsen 237 28 Kyle Okposo 236 29 Kenny Jonsson 232 Season Series Stats The Isles lead the season series 2 games to 1 (and 4 points to 2). The teams will conclude the series with a “home-and-home” on January 29th (at Yankee Stadium) and January 31st (at Madison Square Garden). The visiting team has won each of the last six games; the Islanders have won three straight games in Manhattan and are 3-1-2 in the last six games overall. Since 2005, the Isles are 14-12-2 at MSG (despite going 0-7-1 immediately before this three-game win streak).
Happy Anniversary 32 years ago tonight (1-21-82): The Islanders began their 15-game winning streak and Bryan Trottier began his club-record 25 games point streak as the Islanders blasted Pittsburgh 6-1. Thanks to my MSG colleagues for recognizing the anniversary of my first game on Isles telecasts during Monday’s telecast. All-time, the Isles are 13-5-3 on this date, having won on January 21st in each of the past six seasons.
On The Farm Bridgeport is 15-22-1-4 on the season. Anders Lee leads Bridgeport (and is tied for the AHL rookie lead) with 16 goals. Ryan Strome leads the team (and all AHL rookies) in assists (27); he also leads the Sound Tigers in points (36). Bridgeport is off until Friday, when they begin a 3-game in 3-day weekend in Portland.
Up Next THURSDAY, JANUARY 23rd —PITTSBURGH AT ISLANDERS 7:30PM [NBCSN, 88.7 WRHU-FM, 103.9 WRCN-FM] The Islanders and Penguins meet for the final time in the regular season as they complete the season series at the Coliseum.
All three games have been decided by a single goal; the teams split a pair of games in Pittsburgh before Sidney Crosby capped a Penguins comeback with an overtime goal at the Coliseum on December 3rd.
The Penguins will bring at least a 5-point lead in the Eastern Conference to the Coliseum on Thursday; Pittsburgh hosts Montreal on Wednesday night.
This is the first of four Islander games that will be nationally televised by NBSCN this season (including three of the next six). Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire, who teamed together on TSN in Canada for a number of years, will have the call on the telecast.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since January 21, 1982. Information contained in “The Skinny” has been gathered from various sources. Follow Eric @ehornick on Twitter.