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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 50

Isles 4, Atlanta 1

Kyle Okposo scored two goals and added an assist to give him 100 career points and rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin made 25 saves as the Islanders rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Atlanta Thrashers 4-1 before 11,176 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The win is the Isles’ 6th in their last ten road games (6-4-0).

A Gift For Freddy
Former Islander Freddy Meyer was credited for Atlanta’s only goal as he scored from behind the goal line on a puck that Kevin Poulin never saw and appeared to go off the stick of Travis Hamonic.  A lengthy video review confirmed the goal at 14:31 of the first.  It was Meyer’s first goal since he scored for the Isles in Vancouver on March 16, 2010.  It was the 12th time in 13 games that the Isles have allowed the opening goal and a league-leading 33rd time in 50 games this season (5-24-4).  Atlanta outshot the Isles 10-8 in the opening period.

Big Second Period
The Isles seized control of the game in the middle session.  The record books will note that Travis Hamonic’s first NHL goal came at 5:23 of the second period. It was the sixth goal in the last nine games for the Islanders’ defense.  Late in the session, Kyle Okposo and PA Parenteau scored one minute apart to give the Isles a 3-1 lead after two periods.

Okposo, Again
Kyle Okposo connected on a beautiful passing play with Michael Grabner for his second goal of the night (and of the season) at 11:19 of the third for the game’s final goal and Okposo’s 100th career point.  It’s the third career two-goal game (two have come in Atlanta) and third three-point game for Okposo.  4-1 Final.

Outshoot Opponent… and Win? (Strange Stat of the Night)
The Isles outshot Atlanta 17-9 in the second period and 8-7 in the third, making the final shots 33-26 in favor of the Isles.  It’s the first time all season that the Isles have outshot their opponents and won the hockey game (1-15-2).

The Isles had five players who were +2 (Okposo, Tavares, Grabner, Hillen and Martinek). Grabner, who earned one assist, and had another denied after a scoring change, leads the Isles with a +4 rating. Grabner, who was named the NHL’s 3rd Star for the past week, has six goals and four assists in the last nine games; the Isles were shutout in the only game that he did not earn a point.

Two Helpers for Tavares
John Tavares earned two assists.  He now leads the team in goals (18), assists (20) and points (38) and is in position to exceed his rookie totals in all three categories (24-30-54).  He has five points (all assists) in his last seven games.

Youngster, that’s an NHL Goal
Hamonic’s goal was his first in the NHL, coming in his 30th game.  At 20 years, 169 days, he is the youngest Islander defensemen to score a goal since Mathieu Biron scored his third goal for the Isles at the age of 19 years, 290 days, on Feb 13, 2000 at Madison Square Garden.

Since 1996, the Isles have had 17 goals scored by defensemen younger than Hamonic:  5 by Eric Brewer, 3 by Biron and 9 by Bryan Berard.

Perhaps, as the years go by, 1990 will be celebrated for other reasons than being the year the Isles qualified for the playoffs on the last night of the season or the 50th anniversary of another team’s championship.  Poulin, Tavares and Hamonic all played big roles tonight; all were born in 1990.  Kyle Okposo, tonight’s offensive star, was born in 1988.

Home and Road
The Isles improve to 16-27-7, and are 8-15-3 on the road. They are now 12-17-4 under Jack Capuano, including 11-9-2 in the last 22.  The Isles now have 19 points on the road and 20 points at home.

The struggling Thrashers are 24-20-9 overall and 12-10-5 at home.  They are 5-9-4 in their last 18 games.

In the Nets
Kevin Poulin made 25 saves as he improves to 3-2-1.  Poulin has now stopped 221 of 238 shots in the NHL for a .929 save percentage; his goals against average is a sparkling 2.37.  Poulin’s .929 save percentage is the lowest for any Islander goalie that has played at least 300 minutes (Wade Dubielewicz is at .920). He has allowed only one goal in each of his last two NHL starts.

Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves but falls to 17-13-7 on the season; it was his 100th NHL game.

Power Plays
There were only two penalties called in the game. The Isles scored on their power play, while stopping Atlanta’s only try.  It’s the fourth time in the last 10 road games that the Isles have scored on every power play attempt (1-1 vs New Jersey, 2-2 vs. Calgary and Chicago, 1-1 vs Atlanta).

The Isles have killed 37 of 42 (89%) over the last 15 games. 

Martin Keeps Banging
Matt Martin led the Isles with four hits.  He now has 182, which places him 4th in the NHL.  All three players ahead of Martin have played at least eight more games than him.  Only Cal Clutterbuck, who leads the NHL in hits, averages more hits per game than Martin.

Top 5
The Isles have five players with at least 13 goals (Tavares-18, Moulson-17, Grabner-15, Comeau-13 and Parenteau-13); the quintet has combined for 76 of the Isles’ 123 goals (62%) this season. 

In the Circle
The Isles won 31 of 61 (51%) face-offs. Josh Bailey sparkled in the circle, winning 8 of 10. 

Missing Men
Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter, Milan Jurcina and Nathan Lawson remain out. Ty Wishart and Trevor Gillies were healthy scratches. The Isles have now lost 321 man-games to injury.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 132 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 62-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 30 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.

Season Series Stats   
The Thrashers still lead the season series two games to one (and four points to three); the Isles’ win tonight snapped a three game losing streak to Atlanta.  The Isles are 12-5-5 against the Thrashers all-time in Atlanta; they have won at least one game there in each season since the Thrashers joined the NHL.

Happy Anniversary
17 years ago today (February 1, 1994):   Patrick Flatley scores the Isles’ first three goals for the third (and final) hat trick of his career, Benoit Hogue scored the other two, including the winner at 11:19 of the third, as the Isles beat the Sharks 5-4 at the Coliseum.

33 years ago today (February 1, 1978): In a memorable game at Madison Square Garden, the Isles defeated the Rangers 7-6.  The Isles led 7-4 with four minutes to play in the third period when Chico Resch was ejected as the third man in during a fight between Phil Esposito and Stefan Persson.  Billy Smith allowed two goals in the final four minutes, but the Isles held on for the win. 

All-time, the Isles are 8-4-4 on this date despite not playing at home since 1998.

Up Next
Wednesday, February 2 Islanders @ Pittsburgh 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Islanders will look to sweep the road trip on Wednesday night when they return to Pittsburgh for the second time in just over a week.  The Penguins defeated the Islanders 1-0 last Tuesday and have beaten the Isles ten straight times in Pittsburgh, with the Isles earning only one point (0-9-1).  Seven of the ten games have been decided by two goals or less.

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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