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The Skinny: Islanders vs. Penguins

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
“The Skinny”

By Eric Hornick

Game 55

Isles 9, Penguins 3

Where to begin? Three Islanders reached 20 goals in the same game, 351 penalty minutes (at last count) were assessed, the Isles scored four goals in each of the first two periods, and put up a 9-spot at the Coliseum for the first time since 1992.  Add it all up and the Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 9-3 before a raucous crowd of 12,888 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

4-Goal First  and a 6-0 lead
For only the 3rd time in the last 18 games, the Isles scored first.  Then they scored 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th as they built a 6-0 lead before the game was 24 minutes old.  The 6 goals came in a span of 14:55 with Travis Hamonic, Jesse Joensuu, PA Parenteau and Michael Grabner all scoring in the first period and John Tavares and Mark Haley scoring 30 seconds apart in the second period.

Hamonic had two assists in addition to the goal as he recorded a three-point game for the first time in the NHL.  Joensuu scored his first NHL goal since New Year’s Eve in Detroit and his 4th of the season.  Parenteau’s tally was one of two power play goals for the Isles.  Grabner’s goal made him first on the team to 20 goals and came after he was stopped on his first career penalty shot earlier in the session.  Tavares became the second Isle to reach 20 goals, and extended his point streak to four games; Tavares finished with four points  - he is the first Islander to have four points at home since Jason Blake did so on February 27, 2007 against Philadelphia.  Michael Haley made it 6-0 with his first NHL goal.

Fight Night
The first brawl of the evening came at 5:21 of the second period.  Three Islanders (Matt Martin, Josh Bailey and Travis Hamonic) and three Penguins (Deryk Engelland, Pascal Dupuis and Mike Rupp) were ejected.  The Penguins ended up with a 5 minute power play and got goals from Kris Letang and Jordan Staal (the latter on a 5-on-3).

Third to 20, First to 21
Matt Moulson scored two goals 4:19 apart late in the second period, the latter on a power play to give the Isles an 8-2 lead.  Moulson’s first goal gave the Isles three 20-goal scorers; Dallas is the only other team with three 20-goal scorers.

The Ol’ Brawl Game
The third period featured several sets of fights, including an incident at 4:47 that saw Haley get into two fights following a check by Trevor Gillies on Eric Tangradi.  One of Haley’s fights was with Penguin netminder Brent Johnson, who knocked out Rick DiPietro in last week’s game.  Former Islander Eric Godard came off the Penguins bench during that altercation, earning himself an automatic 10-game suspension.  Gillies, Haley, and Pittsburgh’s Craig Adams all received game misconduct penalties, while Godard earned two. The officials spent the rest of the period giving out misconduct penalties.  When the game ended, Pittsburgh had only two players on the bench.

Grabner Scores a Shorty
Tyler Kennedy scored a power play goal for Pittsburgh at 7:46 of the third; late in the game, Michael Grabner scored his second goal of the game.  This one was a shorthanded goal, his second of the season.  It’s the 21st goal of the season for the hottest goal scorer in the NHL, who now has six goals in the last four games.   Since January 15th, Grabner has 12 goals in the last 13 games, by far the most of any player in the NHL  (Entering play Friday, no one else had more than eight)   Among NHL rookies, only Logan Couture (24) has more goals. Grabner had 8 shots on goal, representing a season high for the Isles. Grabner was also +3, raising his team-leading +/- rating to +9.  Grabner is the first Islander to score twice in consecutive games (and in back-to-backs) this season.  Blake Comeau was the last Isle to score twice in consecutive games (3/30-4/1/10) while John Tavares was the last to score twice in consecutive days (12/8-12/9/09).  9-3 Final.

Rewriting the Record Books (Offense)
The Isles scored 9 goals for the first time in 653 games, dating back to a 9-2 win in Chicago on March 25, 2003.  They scored four goals in two separate periods for the first time since that same game.  The Isles had gone over 18 YEARS without scoring nine goals at home; they last did so against Ottawa on December 17, 1992.   The Isles are only the second team in the NHL to record 9 goals in a game this season; Toronto scored nine against Atlanta last month.  The Isles scored nine goals against Pittsburgh for the first time since January 27, 1990.  It’s the first time that the Penguins have allowed nine goals in a goal since a 9-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, 2003.

Rewriting the Record Books (Penalties)
There were 351 penalty minutes assessed, including 188 to the Islanders.  Both are Islander club records, breaking marks of 233 combined and 108 to the Islanders in an October 14, 1982 game between these same two teams. 213 of the penalty minutes (108 to the Islanders) were assessed in the third period, establishing new club records in those categories as well. All of these marks represent NHL season highs as well. 

Three Islanders were hit with over 30 penalty minutes: Haley 39, Gillies 34, and Martin 32. Haley’s total matches Gino Odjick’s total in a 1998 game with Montreal, and fell just three minutes short of the club record.  Eric Godard finished with 31 minutes for the Penguins.    They are the first players in the NHL to exceed 30 penalty minutes since Colton Orr had 32 for Toronto last February 12th. Haley’s 39th is the highest total by any player in an NHL game since Jody Shelley had 41 minutes for San Jose on April 6, 2008.

Strange Stats of the Night
The Isles had three players reach the 20-goal mark in the same game.  Only two Islanders (Moulson and Tavares last season) had reached 20-goals in the last two seasons.

Hamonic’s goal ended an Islander scoreless streak of 173:17 against Pittsburgh.  It’s the sixth longest scoreless streak against a single opponent in club history.

The Isles had scored just three goals in the first four games of the season series, but scored nine in this game.

All 18 Isles were “+” players while all 18 Penguins were “-“. Bruno Gervais was the only +4 player; it’s the second time that he has been +4 in his career.  Sean Bergenheim and Dylan Reese were the last Isles to go +4, doing so on April 1, 2010 against Philadelphia.
With all the power play time, some Isles saw shorthanded time similar to even strength time in some games. Milan Jurcina played 9:19 shorthanded while Frans Nielsen played 9:15.  Grabner saw 9:21 of shorthanded time.

It’s Been a Long Time…
…since the Isles scored 13 goals in a two-day period. It last happened on December 10-11, 1996, when the Isles beat Phoenix 8-2 and the Rangers 5-3.  The last time the Isles scored more goals in a back-to-back situation was on October 31 – November 1, 1987, when the Isles beat the Rangers 8-2 and Boston (in overtime) 6-5.

…since the Isles scored at least 13 goals in consecutive games.  It last happened when they scored 14 goals in a home-and-home with Boston on March 27-29, 1997, winning 6-3 in Boston and 8-2 on Long Island.

Home and Road
The Isles are 19-29-7, and are 10-13-4 at home. They are now 15-19-4 under Jack Capuano, including 14-11-2 in the last 27.  The Isles are 4-2-0 in February with eight games to play; they have won more than four games in only one month this season, going 6-7-1 in December.
The Penguins are 35-18-4 and 15-8-3 on the road.  The Penguins came into the game allowing the second fewest goals in the league, and left in 6th place in that category.

In the Nets

Koskinen made 35 saves to record his second straight win, and improve his record to 2-1. 

Brent Johnson started and finished for Pittsburgh, stopping 20 of 27 shots.  Marc-Andre Fleury played the final 16:15 of the second period and stopped seven of nine.

Power Plays
The Isles scored twice on the power play and once shorthanded, while all three Penguin goals came with the man advantage. Pittsburgh had 22 shots on their power play, while the Isles had 11 on theirs.    The Isles’ two goals came against a Penguin team that had killed 42 of 43 opponent’s power plays.

In the Circle
The Isles won 37 of 71 (52%) face-offs.  Zenon Konopka won 15 of 23 for the Isles while Jordan Staal lost 16 of 30 for Pittsburgh.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter, Kevin Poulin and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, Blake Comeau, Jeremy Colliton and Nathan Lawson remain out. The Isles have now lost a league-leading 367 man-games to injury.  Rob Schremp and Ty Wishart were healthy scratches.  Al Montoya replaced Joel Martin on the active roster; he is the 7th goaltender to dress for the Islanders this season.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 137 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 67-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 35 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles. 

Grabner Climbing the Rookie Leaderboard
With 27 games to play, Grabner has a chance to do something no Islander rookie since Mike Bossy has done—score as many as 26 goals.  David Volek had 25 in 1988-89 and Trent Hunter had 25 in 2003-04. John Tavares had 24 last season. Bossy had a  club rookie-record of 53 in 1977-78.   Four rookies have led the Isles in goals: Billy Harris - 28 in 1972-73, Mike Bossy - 53 in 1977-78, Trent Hunter -25 in 2003-04 (tied with Mariusz Czerkawski) and Kyle Okposo-18 in 2008-09.

Hit Parade
The Isles out-hit the Penguins 22-18. Travis Hamonic and Milan Jurcina led the way with three hits each. Matt Martin had 2 hits, giving him 200 hits on the season.

Season Series Stats   
The Penguins still lead the season series, three games to two (and seven points to five).  They will meet one last time this season – in the home finale on April 8th.  The Isles have not won in Pittsburgh since 2007 but have more than held their own against the Penguins on Coliseum ice in recent years, going 4-0-2 in the last six games and 10-3-4 in the last 17 Coliseum matchups.  The six game point streak matches the longest that the Isles have managed against Pittsburgh since they went 12-0-1 between 12/20/83 and 2/26/87.

Happy Anniversary
25 years ago today (February 11, 1986):   Bryan Trottier scored the game’s only goal as Billy Smith shutout the Canucks 1-0 at the Coliseum.  It is the only 1-0 regular season win of Smith’s career; he also defeated the Blackhawks in a 1-0 overtime game in the 1979 playoffs.
All-time, the Isles are 10-3-2 on this date, including a 6-2 win over Tampa Bay in 2003 that was powered by Dave Scatchard’s only hat trick as an Islander.

Up Next
Sunday, February 13 Islanders @ Buffalo 3:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 2:30), WRHU 88.7FM]
The Islanders conclude the season series with the Buffalo Sabres as they play the Sabres for the 4th time in 30 days.  The Isles have won two of the first three, including a 5-2 win in Buffalo on January 21st.  The Isles have not swept a season series in Buffalo since the 2003-04 campaign.

And Finally…
The 116th anniversary of Conn Smythe’s birth was observed on February 1st.  The Maple Leaf founder’s famous phrase: “If you can't beat them in the alley, you can't beat them on the ice”
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in “The Skinny” has been gathered from various sources.
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