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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 46

Isles 5, Sabres 2

Michael Grabner extended his goal scoring streak to four straight games and later added a power play empty net goal as the Islanders overcame an injury to goaltender Nathan Lawson and defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,690 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.  Grabner is the first Islander to score in four straight games this season.

First Goal, Finally
After allowing the opening goal for eight straight games, the Isles jumped on top at 7:26 of the first period when Grabner’s shot was put into the Sabre goal by Buffalo defensemen Tyler Myers. The goal also extended Grabner’s point streak to five straight games. Matt Moulson doubled the advantage at 10:30 of the period when he deflected in a shot by Andrew MacDonald.    After Moulson’s goal, with the Sabres trailing 2-0 and being outshot 10-3, Lindy Ruff tried to shake up his team by pulling Olympic netminder Ryan Miller.   Patrick Lalime replaced him and did not face a shot the rest of the first period as the Isles, who entered play tied with Washington for the fewest first period goals (29) ended the first with a 2-0 lead.

Lawson Injured
Nathan Lawson suffered a knee injury late in the first period; he will be re-evaluated on Saturday.  He finished the period and was replaced by Kevin Poulin to start the second period.

Another Goal for PA
PA Parenteau gave the Isles a 3-0 lead at 14:35 of the second period, converting a pass from John Tavares for his 12th goal of the season; the goals have come in 12 different games. The Isles have five players with at least 12 goals (Tavares-18, Moulson-15, Grabner-14 and Comeau-13 are the others); the quintet have combined for 70 of the Isles’ 113 goals (61%) this season. 

Hillen Puts It Away?
Jack Hillen gave the Isles a 4-0 lead at 14:33 of the 3rd period with his second goal of the season. It’s the 8th goal of the season by an Islander defensemen, but only the 4th since October.  Rob Schremp, who was a healthy scratch on Thursday, recorded his 2nd assist of the night; it’s the third time this season that he has had two assists in a game. At that point, it looked like the Isles might be headed for the third combined shutout in franchise history (Smith/Hogosta in 1977; Salo/Flaherty in 1998).

Milestone Moment for Nathan Gerbe
Nathan Gerbe ruined the shutout at 16:38 when he beat Poulin; five seconds later he was re-writing record books as he scored again for the first two-goal game of his career.  The two goals in 5 seconds are the fastest two goals scored by one player against the Isles and the fastest two goals scored by one player in Sabre history. It’s only the 4th time in NHL history that a player has scored two goals in five seconds or less (4 seconds – Nels Stewart and Deron Quint; 5 seconds- Peter Mahovolich).

Gerbe took a slashing penalty seven seconds after his second goal, ending his bid for breaking Bill Mosienko’s record of 3 goals in 21 seconds that has stood since 1952.

Grabner Puts It Away
With Gerbe still in the penalty box, the Sabres were caught for too many men.  With two seconds left to play, after trying to get empty-netters for two teammates, Grabner hit the open twine for his first multi-goal game of the season and second of his career.   Grabner is now tied-3rd among rookie goal scorers with Taylor Hall.   Only Logan Couture (20) and Jeff Skinner (17) have more.  5-2 Final. 

Home and Road
The Isles improve to 15-24-7, including 7-14-3 on the road. They are now 11-14-4 under Jack Capuano, including 10-6-2 in the last 18.  The Isles have gone 5-3-0 in the last eight on the road after going 2-11-3 in their first 16 road games. The Sabres fall to 21-21-5 overall and 11-12-1 at home.

In the Nets
Gerbe’s two goals deprived Nathan Lawson, who left with a 2-0 lead of his first NHL victory. Lawson made 10 saves.  Kevin Poulin made 26 saves and is credited with the win in relief (2-1-1).  Patrick Lalime stopped 16 of 18 shots in relief of Ryan Miller but is charged with the loss.  Miller, who has started 24 straight games, had never been pulled this early in a home game as a Sabre. Lalime has now appeared in seven games this season without a win (0-5-0); it’s the most games played by a goalie without a win this season.  Lawson has played in six without a win. 

Power Plays
The Isles went 1-3 on the power play, scoring a power play goal into an empty net, while Buffalo was 0-3. The Isles re now 8-19 (42%) in the last six on the road.  (The Isles came into the game ranked 29th on the power play at home and 8th on the road.) The Isles have killed 28 of 32 (88%) over the last 11 games. 

In the Circle
The Isles had a strong night in the circle, winning 40 of 67 (60%) face-offs. Frans Nielsen won 12 of 16 while John Tavares won 11 of 17. 

Strange Stat of the Night
The Isles were outshot 38-29. They have been outshot in all 15 of their wins this season (15-10-5). The Isles are 0-14-2 when outshooting their opponent this season.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter, Milan Jurcina and Rhett Rakhshani remain out; Rick DiPietro was left back recovering from the flu.  Trevor Gillies was a healthy scratch. The Isles have now lost 293 man-games to injury.

First Point for Kyle
Kyle Okposo recorded an assist on the empty-net goal for his first point of the season and 97th of his NHL career.

Moulson Extends Streak
Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 128 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 58-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 26 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.

Busy Stretch
Tonight’s game was the first of five games in seven days for the Islanders, matching the club record.  It’s the 26th time that it has happened but the first time since it happened twice in the first 23 games of the 2007-08 season.

•    January 20  - Lost to Washington 1-2
•    January 21 – Won @ Buffalo 5-2
•    January 23- Vs Buffalo
•    January 25- @ Pittsburgh
•    January 26- Vs Carolina

Season Series Stats   
The Isles lead the season series two games to none (and four points to zero), outscoring the Sabres 10-5.  They have scored at least five goals in consecutive games against Buffalo for the first time since the 1995-96 season.  The teams will play again on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum and on February 13 in Buffalo.

Happy Anniversary
29 years ago today (January 21, 1982):   The Isles begin their historic 15-game winning streak, by defeating the Penguins 6-1.  Bryan Trottier scored the winning goal; his 250th in the NHL.  The Penguins would later break the Isles’ record, winning 17 straight, but they needed overtime to complete their streak, leaving the Islanders as the only team in NHL history to have been better than their opponents over 60 minutes in fifteen straight games.

Overall, the Isles are 10-5-3 on January 21st, including victories each of the last three seasons.

Up Next
Sunday, January 23- Buffalo @Islanders 3:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 2:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Islanders look to sweep the home-and-home as they face the Sabres on Sunday afternoon.  It will be the third meeting in nine days between the squads.

Only once in Islander history have the Isles beaten a single opponent three times without being another opponent in between.  In 2001, the Isles beat Carolina on October 17, 18, and 26.  They will have a chance to match this statistical oddity on Sunday.

Buffalo is 7-3-1 in their last 11 games overall, but two of the losses have been to the Islanders.

And Finally…
Happy birthday to Islander captain Doug Weight, born on this date in 1971.  Happy anniversary to Jiggs McDonald, who added a certain statistician to Isles telecasts in time for the first game of that 15-game win streak.

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.
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