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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 53

Toronto 5, Isles 3

With Kevin Poulin suffering an injury in the pre-game warm-up, Mikko Koskinen made 21 saves in his NHL debut, but it was not enough as the Toronto Maple Leafs scored three times in the third period and beat the Islanders 5-3 before a crowd of 7,249 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  The Leafs have won four out of their last five games.

Down Two Early
The Isles allowed the first goal for the 14th time in the last 16 games when Colby Armstrong beat Koskinen just 89 seconds into his NHL debut. The Leafs did not get a shot for another 5:02, but when they did Jay Rosehill scored his first goal in over a year to make it 2-0 Leafs.

Moulson Gets One Back
The Isles got on the board at 10:48 of the first when Matt Moulson beat James Reimer on the power play for his 19th goal of the season.  John Tavares and PA Parenteau earned assists as Moulson took over the team lead in goals.  It was only the 2nd time this season that the Isles have scored a 1st period power play goal at home.

Grabner Scores Again
Michael Grabner evened the game at 15:02 of the second period with his 17th goal, tied for third among all NHL rookies (Couture-24, Skinner-20, Hall-17).   It was Grabner’s 8th goal in the last 11 games.  He also improved his team-leading +/- rating to +4.

Leafs Win the Game in the Third
The Leafs had only seven shots in the 3rd period, but scored three goals: Tomas Kaberle, Nikolai Kulemin and Freddy Sjostrom, all in a 12:19 span, to grab a 5-3 lead. It was Kulemin’s 20th goal of the season, giving Toronto two 20+ goal scorers (Mikhail Grabovski has 22).

Isles Try to Rally
Rob Schremp deflected Milan Jurcina’s shot at 18:08 to cut the Toronto lead to 5-3. It was Schremp’s 10th goal, and third in the last two games.  An apparent Moulson power play goal was erased in the final seconds by a high sticking penalty assessed to Parenteau.  5-3 Final.

Strange Stat of the Night
The Isles have now used five goalies this season (Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Nathan Lawson, Poulin and Koskinen), matching the club record set in 1990-91 (Glenn Healy, Jeff Hackett, George Maneluk, Mark Fitzpatrick and Danny Lorenz) and equaled in 1999-2000 (Stephen Valiquette, Wade Flaherty, Felix Potvin, Roberto Luongo and Kevin Weekes). The Isles are the first team to use five goalies this season; two teams, the Rangers and Flyers, used five last season.

Koskinen becomes the third Isles goalie to make his NHL debut this season, joining Lawson and Poulin.  It’s the first time in club history that three goalies have made their NHL debuts in the same season.

Home and Road
The Leafs improve to 23-26-5; they are 10-15-1 on the road.  It’s only the 7th time this season that Toronto has scored first on the road – fewest in the NHL.  The Leafs are 5-1-1 in those seven games.

The Isles are 17-29-7, and are 9-13-4 at home.  It’s their worst home record after 26 games since 2000-01. They are now 13-19-4 under Jack Capuano, including 12-11-2 in the last 25.  The Isles have lost 5 of the last 6 at home and are 2-6-1 in 2011 on home ice. 

Hard to Come From Behind
The Isles have allowed the first goal a league high 25 times, including 16 times at home.  The Isles are 12-3-3 when they score first and 5-25-4 when they do not.  The Isles are 7-2-1 when scoring first at home and 2-11-3 when allowing the opening tally.

Leaf Notes
Kulemin and Armstrong each extended their point streaks to five games.  Kulemin also has a goal in three straight while Armstrong, who had three points, has earned an assist in five straight as well. Danny Boyce, who had three career assists entering the game, had three assists for the Leafs. Phil Kessel was +1; Toronto is 10-0 when Kessel is a “plus” player.  The Isles held Clarke MacArthur without a point; Mac Arthur had had a point in 20 of the first 22 Leaf wins, including the last 11.

In the Nets
Following Poulin’s injury, Koskinen made his NHL debut.  After allowing goals on the first two shots he faced, he stopped 17 straight in the rest of the first period and second period, before allowed three goals on seven shots in the third.

Reimer made 31 saves as he improved to 6-4-0. Reimer has started four of the last six Leaf games.

Power Plays
The Isles were 1-4 on the power play while the Leafs were 0-4.   The Isles, who outshot Toronto 4-2 on the Leafs’ power plays, have killed 18 of 19 (95%) over the last 6 games and 47 of 53 (89%) over the last 18 games.

In the Circle
The Isles won 21 of 49 (43%) face-offs.  Frans Nielsen won 8 of 15, but John Tavares dropped 12 of 16.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, Blake Comeau, Bruno Gervais, and Nathan Lawson remain out. Kevin Poulin was injured during the pre-game and Jeremy Colliton left the game in the third period with a rib injury. The Isles have now lost a league-leading 34 man-games to injury.  Joel Martin arrived from Bridgeport late in the second period and dressed for an NHL game for the first time.  The injury bug even affected the officials as Tim Nowak left the game with an apparent injury in the first period and did not return.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 135 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 65-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 33 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.

Martin Continues to Hit
The Isles were out-hit 26-24. Joey Crabb had five hits for the Leafs, while Matt Martin had 6 for the Isles. Martin now has 196 hits on the season.

Season Series Stats   
The season series is even at one game each; Toronto has earned three points to the Isles’ two.  The teams will meet again on February 22nd in Toronto and on March 8th on Long Island.  The loss breaks an Islander three-game winning streak over Toronto; they haven’t won four straight from Toronto since November 16, 1989- November 6, 1990.

Happy Anniversary
17 years ago today (February 8, 1994):   In the midst of a blizzard, only 2,966 make it to the Coliseum to watch the Isles defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 behind 26 saves from Jamie McLennan.

All-time, the Isles are 5-9-1 on this date with a win over Buffalo in 2003 being their only win on this date since 1994.

Up Next
Thursday, February 10  Islanders @ Montreal 7:30pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 7:00), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Islanders head north of the border to meet the Canadiens for the final time this season.  Montreal swept a home-and-home from the Isles in late October but the Isles rebounded to beat Les Habitants in the Boxing Day blizzard game at the Coliseum.  Montreal is 6-0-2 in their last eight at home against the Isles with the Isles holding only a shootout win and an overtime win in that stretch.

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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