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The Skinny: Islanders 5, Wild 4

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
“The Skinny”

Game 40
Isles 5, Minnesota 4

In one of the biggest comebacks in Islander history, the Isles rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild before a sellout crowd of 18,851 at Xcel Energy Center. Kyle Okposo twice gave the Isles the lead in the third period, sandwiching a Justin Fontaine goal and the second lead held to allow the Isles to complete the comeback. It’s the Isles third straight road win while the Wild have lost five straight overall.

The Scoring:
1st Period

03:22 MIN Ryan Suter (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Michael Rupp (1), Torrey Mitchell (7)     1 - 0 MIN    

2nd Period

00:39 MIN Jonas Brodin (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Mikko Koivu (21), Nino Niederreiter (12)     2 - 0 MIN    
02:59 MIN Nino Niederreiter (7) Wrist shot - ASST: Mikko Koivu (22)     3 - 0 MIN    
08:45 NYI John Tavares (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Thomas Vanek (15), Kyle Okposo (23)     3 - 1 MIN    
18:58 NYI Cal Clutterbuck (5) Tip-in - ASST: Thomas Hickey (6), Brock Nelson (7)     3 - 2 MIN    

3rd Period
06:30 NYI Thomas Hickey (2) Tip-in - ASST: Colin McDonald (3), Ryan Strome (2)     3 - 3 Tie    
12:13 NYI Kyle Okposo (13) Slapshot - ASST: Thomas Hickey (7), Andrew MacDonald (12) 4 - 3 NYI    
13:45 MIN Justin Fontaine (8) Wrist shot - ASST: Matt Cooke (9), Marco Scandella (9) 4 - 4 Tie    
14:12 NYI Kyle Okposo (14) Wrist shot - ASST: Thomas Vanek (16)     5 - 4 NYI

The Skinny:  
Kyle Okposo extended his point streaks to six games while Thomas Vanek extended his point streak to five games; Frans Nielsen’s point streak ended at five… Kevin Poulin made his first start in 7 games… John Tavares’ goal (temporarily) gave him the club lead; the Isles had scored 15 goals since his prior goal (in Phoenix)… The Isles have won three straight on the road for the first time this season, and are 4-1-0 in their last five road games…Former Islander Nino Niederreiter had two points in defeat for Minnesota…Okposo’s third period heroics allowed him to tie Tavares for the club lead in goals (14)…It’s the first regulation loss for the Wild when leading after two periods all season (14-1-3)…Wild Captain Mikko Koivu became the first player in Wild history to record 300 career assists.

Thomas Hickey’s Night
Thomas Hickey had a night to remember, as he scored a goal, added two assists and went +4.

First Times in A Really, Really Long Time

The Isles rallied to win after trailing by at least three goals for the first time in nearly 20 years (and in 1,459 regular season games).  On March 22, 1994 the Isles fell behind Tampa 4-0 at the Coliseum but rallied to win 5-4 in overtime on a Vladimir Malakhov goal.  It’s the first time the Isles have earned at least a point in a game that they by three goals since rallying from 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2 deficit to force overtime against Pittsburgh on April 9, 2010.
Thomas Hickey is the first Islander to go +4 since Frans Nielsen did so on March 27, 2012 vs Pittsburgh and the first Islander defender to do so since Travis Hamonic went +4 against the Rangers on March 31, 2011.
Hickey also is the first Islander defensemen to have at least three points and go +4 since Barry Richter did so on January 26, 1999 vs Boston.
Prior to tonight, the Iast Islander defender to score a goal and go at least +4 was Bryan Berard on 12/10/96 vs Phoenix.

Auld Lang Syne
The come-from-behind victory clinches a winning 2013 on the road for the Isles.  The Isles are 21-19-4 in 2013 on the road with Tuesday’s game in Boston remaining.
The Isles went 15-19-10 in 44 regular season games at the Coliseum in 2013, including 0-3-2 in December.

Making His Case
Islander Assistant Captain Kyle Okposo had three points and is now tied-2nd in scoring among all American-born players:
Player                 Team     GP     G     A     P
1 Patrick Kane    CHI    41    23    30    53
2 Phil Kessel    TOR    41    20    17    37
2 Kyle Okposo    NYI    40    14    23    37
4 Joe Pavelski    SJS    39    16    20    36
5 Bobby Ryan    OTT    41    18    17    35

The United States Olympic Team will be announced on Wednesday at the Winter Classic.

The Shots:
Isles     8-12-11=31
Wild    16-7-14=37

Home and Road
The Islanders are 12-21-7 overall, 5-8-7 at home and 7-13-0 on the road.   The Isles are 4-3-2 in their last nine games overall and have won three straight on the road.
The Wild are 20-16-5 overall; they are 14-4-2 at home and 6-12-3 on the road. The Wild have lost five straight overall.

By Division
The Isles are 3-9-3 in Division games and are 4-3-3 vs. the Atlantic Division.  The Isles are 2-4-0 vs. Central Division teams and 3-5-1 vs. the Pacific Division.

In the Nets
Kevin Poulin made 33 saves in his first career appearance against the Wild and improves to 5-12-0 on the season.
Josh Harding made 26 saves in his first career appearance against the Isles but falls to 18-6-3 on the season.  It’s the first time all season that Harding has allowed at least four goals.  It was Harding’s first appearance after missing the last four games due to illness.

Power Plays
The Islanders were 0-3 while the Wild were 0-4.
The Isles are 6-5-4 when they score at least one power play goal and 6-16-3 when they do not.  The Isles are 4-14-3 when they allow at least one power play goal and 8-7-4 when they do not.  
The Islander special teams, particularly the penalty kill, have improved as of late.  The power play is 2-14 (14.3%) over the last six games while the Isles have killed 16 of 18 (88.9%) over the last seven games while scoring two shorthanded goals.

Three is a Magic Number
The Isles are 12-4-2 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 0-17-5 when they do not.  

Helps to Score First
The Isles are 8-5-5 when they score first and are 4-16-2 when they allow the opening goal.  

Second to The One
Jack Capuano is now 2nd on the all-time Islander list in both games coached (235) and wins (96).

Most games coached (Islanders):
1.    Al Arbour 1,500
2.    Jack Capuano 235
3.    Mike Milbury 191
4.    Terry Simpson 187
5.    Scott Gordon 181

Most wins by Islander coaches:

1.    Al Arbour 740
2.    Jack Capuano 96
3.    Terry Simpson 81
4.    Peter Laviolette 77
5.    Ted Nolan 74

They Said It
Wild Coach Mike Yeo: “Holy Cow, that’s a tough one to find an explanation.”
Kyle Okposo: "Third periods have been our Achilles heel all year. We've really wanted to change that and tonight we got the job done."

They Tweeted It
@fjalvarez10 Hopefully 4 months from now we look back at this great #isles win as the turning point! Gotta love @bookerT2116 #LetsGoIslanders
@SobotkaMichal  What a great comeback. Strong game by Okposo and mainly Hickey. 3+ goals/game and it will be good. #Isles
@adamschechter Great #Isles win. Okposo is showing why he deserves to be in Sochi this February.

The Coach
“We wanted to activate our D…I thought Hicks did a great job… we’re going to continue to need that (offense) from those guys.”

The Isles are 4-6-0 in the front-end and 3-5-2 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.
In the ten sets of back-to-backs, they have earned 4 points once, 3 points once, 2 points four times, 1 point once and no points on three occasions.
The next back-to-back set will be January 6th vs Dallas and January 7th in Toronto.

Head of the Class

John Tavares has 289 career points; he is 62 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
Travis Hamonic played 27:09 to lead the Isles for the 15th time this season.  Ryan Suter led the Wild with 33:14 of ice-time (including 23:23 over the last two periods).
The Isles are 8-12-5 when MacDonald leads them in ice-time and 4-9-2 when Hamonic leads them.

In the Circle
The Islanders won only 20 of 62 draws.  John Tavares won 11 of 21 for the Isles but his teammates won only 9 of the other 41; Mikko Koivu won 19 of 27 for the Wild.
The Isles won only 32% of the draws and won 22 fewer draws than they lost; both figures are the lowest for the Islanders this season.

Heavy Hitters
The Isles out-hit the Wild 15-11. Colin McDonald had four hits to lead the Isles; Matt Martin added one hit; his 190 hits lead the NHL by a wide margin.
Colin McDonald fought Torrey Mitchell in the first period.  The Isles have been involved in 15 fights this season: Martin (6), Boulton (4), Carkner (4), McDonald (1).

Giving Up the Body
The Isles were credited with 16 blocked shots. Thomas Hickey led the way with four blocks. Andrew MacDonald added two hits, extending his NHL-leading total to 136.

Back To All-Time .500
The Islanders once again regain all-time NHL .500 (1383-1383-446 in 3,212 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 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.

Frans Nielsen is the Islanders’ reigning ironman.  He has played 170 consecutive games, and is one of six Islanders to have played in every game this season.  Other current ironman streaks: Kyle Okposo (153), Travis Hamonic (110), Matt Martin (101), Andrew Mac Donald (88) and Thomas Hickey (41).  

Century Club
Travis Hamonic is the only defenseman in Islander history with two streaks in which he played at least 100 consecutive games.  Those are two of only 10 streaks of at least 100 consecutive games by 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.    Janne Niinimaa 3/13/2004-1/7/2006 136 (**)
5.    Ken Morrow 3/1/1980-12/29/1981 134 (*)
6.    Mark Streit  10/8/2011-4/26/2013 130
7.    Travis Hamonic 11/24/2010 – 2/4/2012 113 (*)
8.    Travis Hamonic 2/24/2012- CURRENT 110

9.    Jean Potvin 10/23/1975-1/2/1977 110
10.    Kenny Jonsson 12/26/1996-2/4/1998 104

(*) Start of NHL career.
(**) Entire career with Islanders

Missing Men
Lubomir Visnovsky and Radek Martinek remain on injured reserve.  John Tavares returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game, replacing Josh Bailey (injured); Eric Boulton replaced Michael Grabner (ill). Minnesota native Aaron Ness replaced Matt Carkner. The Isles have lost 102 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 9-18-5 this season without him in the lineup.

Career Wins, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 680
2. Roberto Luongo 364
3. Evgeni Nabokov 342
4. Nikolai Khabibulin 333

Career Wins
17. Rogie Vachon 355
18. Evgeni Nabokov 342
19. Gump Worsley 335
20. Nikolai Khabibulin 333

Career Shutouts, Active Goalies

1. Martin Brodeur 124
2. Roberto Luongo 65
3. Evgeni Nabokov 56
4. Tomas Vokoun 51

Career Shutouts
18 Clint Benedict       57
19 Evgeni Nabokov 56
20 Bernie Parent       54
20 Ed Giacomin        54

Career Goals as an Islander
15    Mariusz Czerkawski    145
16    Jason Blake    127
17    John Tavares     126
18    Duane Sutter    121

34    Butch Goring    87
35    Kyle Okposo    86
36    Tomas Jonsson    84
37    Wayne Merrick    81
37    Dave Scatchard    81
39    Marty McInnis    79
40    Miroslav Satan    78
41    Claude Lapointe 76
42    Michael Grabner 75
43    Frans Nielsen    73
43    Lorne Henning    73
43    J.P. Parise    73

Career Assists as an Islander
20    Jean Potvin    167
21    Jeff Norton    166
22    Zigmund Palffy    163
22    John Tavares    163
24    David Volek    154
25    Frans Nielsen    153
26    Mariusz Czerkawski    150
Career Games as an Islander (skaters)
24    Eddie Westfall    493
25    Radek Martinek    476
25    Gerry Hart    476
27    Mariusz Czerkawski    470
33    Wayne Merrick  411
34    Frans Nielsen     407
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     367
42    Kyle Okposo     359

43    Dave Scatchard    347
47     Butch Goring    332     
47     Oleg Kvasha     332     
49     Bruno Gervais     331     
49     Ziggy Palffy     331     
51     Shawn Bates     330     
51    John Tavares     330
53    Eric Cairns     327

Career Points as an Islander

17    Mariusz Czerkawski    295
18    Duane Sutter    292
19    Alexei Yashin    290
20    John Tavares     289
21    Ed Westfall    286
27    Kenny Jonsson    232
28    Greg Gilbert    231
29    Benoit Hogue    229
29    Trent Hunter    229
31    Frans Nielsen     226
32    Matt Moulson    223
33    Kyle Okposo     222
33    Mikko Makela    219

Season Series Stats
The Islanders lead the season series 1 game to 0 (and two points to none).  The teams will also meet on March 18th at the Coliseum.
The Isles have won four straight against the Wild, and improve to 3-4-1 all-time against the Wild in Minnesota.

Happy Anniversary

12 years ago tonight: December 29, 2001.  Alexi Yashin scored his only overtime goal as an Islander as the Isles defeated Montreal 6-5 at the Coliseum. The goal was Yashin’s second of the game; Mark Parrish also scored twice for the Isles, who had leads of 3-0 and 5-1 before the Canadiens knotted the game.
Overall, the Isles are 11-10-1 on this date, having gone 8-1-0 in their last nine games on December 29th.

On The Farm
Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored a goal and added an assist as Bridgeport rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 shootout victory over the Albany Devils at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday. Bouchard now has points in each of the last five games that he has played. The Sound Tigers improve to 13-16-1-3 on the season and begin a 4-game road trip on New Year’s Eve against Portland.
Anders Lee and Mike Halmo lead Bridgeport with 12 goals; Lee also leads current Sound Tigers in both assists (13) and points (25).  Ryan Strome still leads both the team and the AHL assists (24) and still leads the team in points (33).  

Up Next
[MSG+ (Islanders pre-game at 6:30pm), 88.7 WRHU-FM, 103.9 WRCN-FM]

The Islanders play their final game of 2013 on New Year’s Eve in Boston.

The Isles have won the last two games against the Bruins and will be looking for their first win streak of at least three games against the B’s since winning six straight from 2005-2007.

The Isles won the first meeting of the season, 3-1 at the Coliseum back on November 2nd.  That win raised the Isles record to 6-5-3, but they are 6-16-4 since.

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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