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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 52

Isles 5, Ottawa 3

Rob Schremp scored twice and Kevin Poulin stopped the final 18 Senators shots as the Isles defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3 before a crowd of 10,415 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The win breaks a four-game home losing streak for the Islanders as they hand the Sens their 9th straight defeat.

Wild First Period
The Isles scored first for only the 2nd time in the last 15 games when Matt Moulson beat Senator starter Brian Elliot at 4:10 of the opening session for his 18th goal of the season, tying John Tavares for the team lead.  It was the first time that the Isles had opened the scoring at home since December 28.  Chris Neil got the goal right back for Ottawa, tying the score 13 seconds later.

Grabner Scores Again
Michael Grabner gave the Isles a 2-1 lead at 9:44 of the first period with his 16th goal, fourth among all NHL rookies (Couture-23, Skinner-18, Hall-17).   It was Grabner’s 7th goal in the last ten games.  However, Mike Fisher tied the game for the Sens 2:36 later with his 14th goal of the season.

Ottawa then grabbed the lead on Alexei Kovalev’s 11th goal of the season at 17:11 of the first.  It was the 421st career goal for Kovalev (5th among active players and 70th all-time).  Rob Schremp got the goal back just 17 seconds to send the game into the first intermission even at 3-3.

Exit Elliott, Enter Lehner
Teenager Robin Lehner replaced Elliott to start the second period. The period was scoreless, but the game changed in the final seconds of the session.  Chris Philips took an interference penalty at 19:55 and after the buzzer sounded, Lehner threw an elbow at Islander goaltender Kevin Poulin as the goalies crossed to their respective dressing rooms.  Lehner drew a penalty for his actions and the Islanders would make him pay early in the third period.

Schremp Again
The Isles began the third period with John Tavares in the penalty box, sitting out a coincidental roughing penalty.  That opened a space on the power play for Schremp and he converted on the 5-on-3 at 1:39 of the third for the lead goal.  It’s the first time this season and the second time in his career that Schremp has scored twice in a game (1/12/2010 vs Detroit).

Sens Pressure…
Ottawa had a late power play when Andrew MacDonald was called for tripping at 18:15 of the third. MacDonald had 12 penalty minutes on the night, matching his season-high. The Sens pulled Lehner for a 6-on-4 advantage but tight Isles defense allowed for only one Senator shot on goal.  With just nine seconds to play, Frans Nielsen hit the empty net for his first goal since December 23rd.  It’s his 6th goal of the season and his 4th shorthanded, tying Boston’s Brad Marchand for the league lead. It was the Isles’ 6th shorty of the season and their 5th empty-netter.  Nielsen’s four SH goals equals the most by an Islander since Shawn Bates had six in 2002-03; the club record is 7, set by Bobby Bourne in 1980-81.  It’s the 25th time in Islander history that a player has had 4 shorthanded goals (Butch Goring and Lorne Henning each did it three times).  Nielsen, who also earned an assist on the Grabner goal, now has 99 career points; 6 of his 30 goals have been scored shorthanded. 5-3 Final.

Drop the Gloves
Matt Martin and Zack Smith’s engaged in the game’s only fight, just 3:08 into play.  A scramble late in the second period resulted in double roughing penalties to Tavares and Milan Michalek; Andrew MacDonald drew a misconduct penalty on the play.

Strange Stat of the Night
There were six goals scored in the first period, the most in any first period between the teams since November 17, 1993, when the Isles scored all six goals.  The goals all came in the first 12:18 of the period. Pierre Turgeon had a pair; four other players each scored once.

Home and Road

The Isles are 17-28-7, and are 9-12-4 at home. They are now 13-18-4 under Jack Capuano, including 12-10-2 in the last 24.  The Isles have 21 points on the road and 20 points at home.  

The Sens are 17-28-8, and are 8-13-4 on the road.  They have won only once in 2011 (1-10-3).

With 41 points, the Isles have one more point than New Jersey and three more points than Edmonton.  The Isles are just one point behind the Sens.

In the Nets
Kevin Poulin improved to 4-2-1 as he made 20 saves.  Poulin has now stopped 242 of 262 shots in the NHL for a .924 save percentage.  His goals against average is an impressive 2.44.

Elliot stopped 10 of 13 in the first period; he remains winless since Boxing Day.  Lehner is charged with the loss (1-2-0); he finished with 23 saves and allowed just one goal.  Two of his three career decisions have been against the Isles.

Power Plays
The Isles were 1-5 on the power play while the Sens were 0-2, allowing an empty net shorty.  The Isles have killed 14 of 15 (93%) over the last 5 games and 43 of 49 (88%) over the last 17 games.

In the Circle
The Isles won 28 of 61 (46%) face-offs. Jeremy Colliton won all six draws he took for the Isles, including four in the third period.  Jason Spezza won 16 of 23 for Ottawa.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter, and Nathan Lawson remain out. Rick DiPietro (facial fractures/knee swelling), Blake Comeau (concussion) and Bruno Gervais (upper body injury) all sat out with injuries. The Isles have now lost a league-leading 337 man-games to injury.  Trevor Gillies returned to the lineup, Ty Wishart had two assists in his Islander debut, and Mikko Koskinen dressed for an NHL game for the first time.

Man-Games Lost (as seen on MSG+)
The Isles lead the NHL by a wide margin in man-games lost.  Entering Saturday’s games, the Isles had lost 328 games, New Jersey 288, Colorado 249, Minnesota 247 and Calgary 229.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 134 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 64-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 32 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.

1300 Club
The win is the 1,300th in Islander regular season history (1300-1297-415).  The Isles have been over .500 for 33 years, having never fallen back to all-time .500 since improving to 179-178-83 on January 18, 1978.

Offense from the Defense
The Isles received five assists from their defense: two each from Travis Hamonic and Ty Wishart and one from Jack Hillen.  Each of the defender assists came on a different goal. It was the first 2-assist game of their career for both Hamonic and Wishart.

Lots of Hits
The Isles out-hit Ottawa 29-17.  Travis Hamonic (who had 51 hits in 31 previous games) led the way with six hits; Matt Martin had 4.

Season Series Stats   
The Senators still lead the season series two games to one (and four points to two). The teams have split the two Coliseum match-ups this season; the final meeting of the season will be on February 15th in Ottawa.  The 5 goals and 38 shots were the most by the Islanders since they had identical totals vs. the Sens in a 5-2 win on January 19, 2004.

Happy Anniversary
9 years ago today (February 5, 2002):   Garth Snow made 29 saves and Brad Isbister scored the winning goal with 9:39 to play as the Isles defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at the Coliseum.

All-time, the Isles are 8-6-1 on this date with their win over Ottawa being their first in four games since 2002.

Up Next
Tuesday, February 8 Toronto @ Islanders 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

If it’s Tuesday, it will be Toronto…as the Isles and Leafs will meet three times in a 29 day period, all on Tuesday nights.  This Tuesday marks the Leafs’ first visit of the season to Long Island and the first game between the squads since October 18th.  The Isles have had their way with Toronto on Coliseum ice for the last several seasons, going 9-1-2 in the last 12 games.  Overall, the Isles have won three straight over the Maple Leafs; they haven’t won four straight from Toronto since November 16, 1989- November 6, 1990.

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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