Buffalo 3, Isles 2
Alex Sulzer broke a 2-2 tie midway through the third period and John Tavares later hit a goalpost on a penalty shot attempt as the Buffalo Sabres, behind 41 saves from Ryan Miller, handed the Islanders their fourth straight loss, defeating the Islanders 3-2 before 12,608 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
09:11 BUFThomas Vanek (11) Wrist Shot - Assists: C. Hodgson (6) & J. Leopold (3)
19:18 NYIJohn Tavares (6) Wrap-Around - Assists: B. Strait (2) & B. Boyes (5)
12:21 BUFChristian Ehrhoff (1) Wrist Shot - Assists: C. Hodgson (7) & T. Vanek (12)
17:35 NYIColin McDonald (1) Snap Shot - Assists: C. Cizikas (2) & B. Strait (3)
07:35 BUFAlexander Sulzer (3) Slap Shot - Assists: S. Ott (4) & M. Grigorenko (2)
The Skinny: The Isles went 0-for-3 on the power play, dropping to 0-for-22 over the last four games; it’s the first time since April 12-October 5, 1996 (29 times) that the Isles have failed on at least 22 power plays in four consecutive games … The Isles have scored only five goals total in those four games (all losses) and have scored only eight goals in their six regulation defeats … John Tavares broke a tie with Michael Grabner for the team lead in goals … It was his 215th career point, passing Mark Parrish for 31st on the all-time club point list … Tavares’ penalty shot attempt was the first of his career … Brian Strait recorded his first two assist game, while Colin McDonald scored his first goal as an Islander … Brad Boyes, playing against his former team, recorded his fifth assist of the season … He had only 24 assists in 86 games as a Sabre … Thomas Vanek scored a goal and added an assist; he leads the NHL in both goals (11) and points (23) … Ryan Miller made 40-plus saves for the 20th time in his career; he is 15-2-3 when he stops at least 40 shots (including 9-0-1 in the last 10).
Sabres 4- 7- 4 =15
The 15 shots were the fewest for the Sabres against the Islanders since they had 15 on October 9, 2003 in Buffalo. The 43 Islander shots matched their most against Buffalo since having 46 on February 6, 1988. The 28-shot differential was the largest in the Isles favor since October 31, 2008, when they outshot Carolina 60-28. Ironically, the Isles had a chance to tie that game on a third period penalty shot as well; Doug Weight was stopped in the final seconds by Cam Ward.
Every Islander forward had at least one shot on goal. The Islanders attempted 82 shots (23 were blocked by Buffalo and 16 missed the net).
The Penalty Shot
Tavares’ attempt was the first for the Islanders this season. The Isles have failed on 15 of their last 16 regular season home ice penalty shots, dating back to a goal by Tim Connolly on 3/21/00. Michael Grabner scored in last season’s finale for the only success in that span. (Shawn Bates connected in a 2002 playoff game; 14 of the 15 regular season failures have occurred since then).
It was the 52nd penalty shot in Islander regular season history; they have scored only 14 times (27%). Five of those attempts have come against Buffalo. Five different Islander shooters have faced five different Sabres goalies, with Olli Jokinen’s goal against Dominik Hasek in 2000 being the only successful attempt.
Home and Road
The Islanders are 4-6-1 overall, 1-4-0 at home and 3-2-1 on the road. It’s the first time this season that the Isles have fallen two games under .500. The Isles have only two points in their first five home games, matching the club record set in 1972-73, and equaled in 1983-84, 1989-90 and 2008-09.
The Sabres are 5-6-1 overall, 2-2-1 at home and 3-4-0 on the road.
In the Nets
Evgeni Nabokov made 12 saves but falls to 4-5-1 on the season. Nabokov is now 4-4-2 in his career against the Sabres. The loss broke a personal five-game win streak for Nabokov in games that he has made 12 or fewer saves.
Ryan Miller made 43 saves as he improves to 5-4-1 on the season and 14-8-2 against the Islanders.
The Isles went 0-for-3 on the power play while the Sabres were 0-for-2. It’s the first time in four games that the Isles have not allowed a power play goal. The Isles’ power play is 2-for-28 (7.1%) at home this season.
They Said It
Lubomir Visnovsky: "I feel pretty good. Sometimes if we play more simple, we are more effective."
They Tweeted It
@BComptonNHL: #Isles outshoot #Sabres 43-15. And lose. 3-2 final.
“Our battle level (compared to) the Rangers game was night and day. Our guys left everything they had on the ice tonight and just came up short.”
Head of the Class
John Tavares has 215 career points; he is 56 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.
Friends, Friends, Friends
Matt Moulson has four goals this season; John Tavares has earned an assist on two of them. Tavares has now been on ice for 64 consecutive Moulson goals, earning assists on 42 of them, dating back to a Moulson goal on November 17, 2010 against Tampa Bay.
107 NHL Goals
Moulson has 107 career goals (101 as an Islander). While 262 players were selected before the Penguins chose Moulson in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, only 17 have more goals.
All four of Matt Moulson’s goals this season have come on the road. Scoring on the road is nothing new for Moulson; 23 of his 36 goals last season also came on the road. Only Steven Stamkos (24) had more.
Leading Ice Men
Marc Streit led the Isles for the third straight game, playing 25:00. Jordan Leopold led Buffalo with 25:25.
In the Circle
The Islanders won 29 draws; the Sabres won 27. John Tavares won 14-of-23 for the Isles; Cody Hodgson won 9-of-18 for Buffalo.
The Islanders out-hit Buffalo 17-13; Matt Martin led the Isles with five hits. There were no fights, leaving the season total at six.
The Islanders fall to .500 all-time (1351-1351-433 in 3,135 games). The Isles twice last season fell one game below .500. Prior to that, they had not been below .500 since they were 177-178-83 before their victory on January 16, 1978.
4 is a Magic Number
The Isles are 4-0-1 when scoring at least four goals and 0-6-0 when scoring two or less. (The Isles have not scored exactly three goals in any game so far this season.)
The Isles are in the midst of a stretch in which they will play nine consecutive games in the New York area (six at home, two at MSG, and one in New Jersey). The Isles are 1-4-0 so far in this stretch, with one game at MSG, and home games against Carolina, New Jersey and Philadelphia remaining.
As Seen on MSG+
Since Lindy Ruff became the Sabres coach in 1997, there have been 170 coaching changes in the NHL.
Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 257 games since joining the team. Moulson’s streak is the longest for an Islander in the Post-Cup era and the fourth-longest in club history. Billy Harris played in the first 576 games in Islander history; that figure still stands as the club record.
Three other Islanders (Frans Nielsen, John Tavares and Mark Streit) also played in every game last season. Tavares extended his streak to 170 consecutive games, while Nielsen and Streit have each played in 93.
Longest Consecutive Game Streaks, Islander History
1. Billy Harris 576
2. Bob Nystrom 301
3. Denis Potvin 262
4. Matt Moulson 257
New Men in The Lineup
Josh Bailey made his season debut for the Islanders, playing 12:48, and recording a career-high seven shots on goal. It was his 293rd career game, all for the Islanders.
Lubomir Visnovsky also made his Islander debut. Visnovsky, who led all NHL defensemen in points in 2010-11 and led all NHL players that season in the number of goals he was on ice for his team, played 20:34 and was +2. Visnovsky has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time in each of his last eight NHL seasons. This was his 772nd NHL game; he previously played for Los Angeles, Edmonton, and Anaheim.
Spirit of ‘76
Visnovsky is now the oldest skater on the roster (Evgeni Nabokov is 12 ½ months older). He is six days older than Eric Boulton and twenty days older than Radek Martinek. All three players were born in August, 1976.
Casey Cizikas returned to the lineup and recorded an assist. Eric Boulton and Marty Reasoner were scratched. Matt Carkner has been added to injured reserve, joining Radek Martinek. Jesse Joensuu remains suspended after suffering an injury in Europe.
Here's a number that Howie Rose likes to refer to from time-to-time. Colin McDonald is the fourth player to score his first goal as an Islander this season, joining Brad Boyes, Keith Aucoin and Casey Cizikas. 325 players in Islander history have now scored a goal.
The Isles have scored 20 goals in their four wins (5.00 per game) and 12 goals in their other seven games (0-6-1; 1.71 per game). In their six regulation losses, the Isles have scored eight goals (1.33 per game).
Career Wins, Active Goalies
1. Martin Brodeur 662
2. Roberto Luongo 342
3. Nikolai Khabibulin 328
4. Evgeni Nabokov 316
5. Miikka Kiprusoff 313
21. Sean Burke 324
22. Evgeni Nabokov 316
23. Miikka Kiprusoff 313
Career Goals as an Islander
22Benoit Hogue 105
22Ed Westfall 105
24Matt Moulson 101
24Anders Kallur 101
26Trent Hunter 99
32Travis Green 92
33John Tavares 90
34Butch Goring 87
Career Assists as an Islander – active players
4Kyle Okposo 95
Career Games as an Islander (skaters)
44Butch Goring 332
44Oleg Kvasha 332
46Bruno Gervais 331
46Ziggy Palffy 331
48Frans Nielsen 330
48Shawn Bates 330
50Eric Cairns 327
58Gord Lane 304
59Arron Asham 300
59Roman Hamrlik 300
61Josh Bailey 293
62Gord Dineen 287
63Jeff Norton 282
63Kyle Okposo 282
68Brad Lauer 259
69Benoit Hogue 258
70Matt Moulson 257
71Pierre Turgeon 255
72John Tavares 254
73Jude Drouin 250
74Mark Streit 249
75Brad Isbister 247
75Brendan Witt 247
Career Points as an Islander
31John Tavares 215
41Matt Moulson 180
42Frans Nielsen 175
50Kyle Okposo 165
Season Series Stats
The Sabres lead the season series one game to zero (two points to none). This was the Sabres’ only visit to Long Island this season. The teams will meet again on February 23 and April 26 in Buffalo. The April 26 game will be the final regular season game for the Islanders.
33 years ago today (2-9-80): Billy Smith made 28 saves as the Islanders blanked the Quebec Nordiques 5-0 at the Coliseum.
All-time, the Isles are 3-9-1 on this date, with a 2010 shootout win over Nashville their only victory in the last nine (1-7-1).
On The Farm
Bridgeport is 20-19-2-3. The Sound Tigers’ game with Portland on Saturday night was postponed due to the storm. Bridgeport will host Worcester on Sunday afternoon.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11 CAROLINA AT ISLANDERS (7:00PM)
[MSG+ (Pre-game show at 6:30PM), WRHU (88.7FM)]
The Islanders and Hurricanes meet for the first of three times this season at the Coliseum on Monday night.
The Isles swept all four games last season (earning eight points to Carolina’s two). John Tavares dominated the series last year, going 6-6-12 in the four games, including three game-winning goals.
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.