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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 51

Pittsburgh 3, Isles 0

On Groundhog Day in Pittsburgh, the Penguins made Bill Murray proud, as they defeated the Islanders for the 11th straight time on home-ice.  Pittsburgh beat the Isles 3-0 before another sellout crowd of 18,142 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. It’s their second straight shutout of the Islanders, marking the first time since 1972-73 that the Penguins have blanked the Isles twice in one season.

2-Goal Penguin First
The Penguins grabbed the lead at 8:08 of the first period on a power play goal by Tyler Kennedy.  It was the 13th time in 14 games that the Isles have allowed the opening goal and a league-leading 34th  time in 51 games this season (5-25-4).  Chris Kunitz doubled the advantage just over five minutes later with his 18th goal of the season. 

Power Outage
The Isles, who came into the game with the NHL’s 6th highest-rated road power play, had five opportunities after Pittsburgh grabbed the 2-0 advantage but managed only three shots on goal. Maxime Talbot’s 50th career goal (and first in 26 games) hit an empty-net goal with 41 seconds remaining put the game away; it also gave him 100 career points.  3-0 Final.

Fight Night
This was a rough game.  A hit by Talbot on Blake Comeau started it all; the Islanders’ response led to the Kennedy power play goal.  Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp squared off in the second period.  But, those who turned away from the game before the final buzzer missed a brawl at 19:43 of the third.  Rick DiPietro was assessed 19 penalty minutes, including a game misconduct.  DiPietro was given an interference penalty and then with Matt Martin squared off with Matt Cooke, DiPietro challenged Penguin netminder Brent Johnson; Johnson dropped DiPietro with one punch.  72 penalty minutes were assessed for the brawl, including 43 to the Islanders.  For the game, the Isles drew 58 penalty minutes and the Penguins 46. 

More Minutes for Z
Konopka ended up with 23 penalty minutes, giving him 45 against the Penguins this season and a league leading 181.  He is the first Islander to record at least 23 penalty minutes in a game since Eric Cairns had 27 against the Rangers on February 4, 2004 and the first forward to do so since Gino Odjick had 27 against Colorado on November 17, 1998. His 181 minutes are the 22nd highest season total in Islander history, the most by any Islander since Cairns’ 189 in 2003-04, and the most by an Islander forward since Mick Vukota had 237 in 1993-94.  Konopka, who is second in the NHL with 17 fights, has had a fight in each of the last three games with Pittsburgh.

Johnson Loses Shutout
While he earned a “knockout”, Brent Johnson lost out on his 15th career shutout as both goalies were ejected. (Under NHL rules, a goaltender must play the complete game to earn credit for a personal shutout.) He is the first goalie to be ejected in the last minute of a potential shutout since JS Giguere was tossed in a game between Anaheim and Calgary on December 8, 2001.

Shared Shutouts (Strange Stat of the Night)
This is the 4th shared shutout in Islander history (2 for and 2 against) and the second time due to a goalie fight.  The complete list:

•    11/1/77  Isles 9, Atlanta 0  Smith 51:25, Hogosta 8:35 (coach’s decision)
•    11/9/96 Devils 4, Isles 0  Brodeur 59:19,  Dunham :41  (8:15 – 8:56 of 3rd period) (coach’s decision)
•    4/4/98  Isles 3, Rangers 0 Salo 53:01, Flaherty 6:59 (goalie ejected)
•    2/2/11 Penguins 3, Isles 0 Johnson 59:43, Fleury :17 (goalie ejected)

Can’t Win If You Can’t Score
The Isles have been shutout six times this season, and five times under Jack Capuano.  All six shutouts have been on the road, including three times in the last five road games.

Pittsburgh has now held the Isles scoreless for 164:26 since Josh Bailey scored 34 seconds into the second period of the Isles’ shootout victory on December 29th.

Home and Road
The Penguins, despite playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin, win their fourth straight game and seventh in the last eight.  Pittsburgh improves to 33-15-4 overall, and 18-9-1 at home.  The Penguins are the second team in the East to reach 70 points, and trail Philadelphia by one point.

The Isles are 16-28-7, and are 8-16-3 on the road. They are now 12-18-4 under Jack Capuano, including 11-10-2 in the last 22.  The Isles have 19 points on the road and 20 points at home.

In the Nets
Johnson made 20 saves as he improved to 9-4-2. He’s allowed 2 goals or fewer in 11 of his 14 starts this season.  This was his first win since December 22nd.   Marc-Andre Fleury played the final 17 seconds.

DiPietro made 19 saves for the Islanders but suffers his 4th straight loss.  It’s also the first time in his career that he has been assessed either a major penalty or misconduct penalty.  His 19 penalty minutes are the most by an Islander goalie since at least 1988.  He is the first Isles goalie to earn a misconduct since Garth Snow (2-19-04 at Madison Square Garden) and the first to earn a major penalty since Tommy Salo (4-4-98 vs. Rangers).

Kevin Poulin made one save in the final 17 seconds.  Poulin has now stopped 222 of 239 shots in the NHL for a .929 save percentage.

Power Plays
The Isles were 0-5 on the power play while the Penguins were 1-5.  The Isles have killed 41 of 47 (87%) over the last 16 games while Pittsburgh has stopped 32 of the last 33 opponent power plays. The Penguins own the NHL’s best penalty kill (88.6%). 

In the Circle
The Isles won 28 of 63 (44%) face-offs. Josh Bailey won 10 of 19. 

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 328 man-games to injury – equivalent to four players each missing an entire season.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 133 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 63-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 31 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.

Season Series Stats   
The Penguins lead the season series three games to one (and seven points to three). The Isles lost all three games in Pittsburgh (0-2-1) and are winless in the Steel City for the third straight season. Pittsburgh has two trips to Long Island remaining, on February 11 and April 8.  The Penguins have beaten the Isles 11 straight times in Pittsburgh, with the Isles earning only one point (0-10-1).  Seven of the eleven games have been decided by two goals or less.

Happy Anniversary
29 years ago today (February 2, 1982):   Brent Sutter becomes the sixth rookie in Islander history to score a hat trick, beating Washington’s Dave Parro three times.  The Isles need all three goals as they defeat the Caps 7-6, extending their winning streak to six straight games and giving Al Arbour his 400th victory.  Brother Duane assisted on all of Brent’s goals, which earned him a share of an Isles rookie club record that still stands today.

All-time, the Isles are 9-6-5 on this date despite having lost their last four Groundhog Day games.

Up Next
Saturday, February 5 Ottawa @ Islanders 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Isles return home to entertain Ottawa on Saturday.  The Sens have beaten the Isles twice this season, and have outscored the Isles 10-5.  The Sens are 1-10-4 in their last 15 straight, and have lost eight straight since defeating the Isles 6-4 on January 13th.

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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