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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 54

Isles 4, Canadiens 3 (shootout)

Mikko Koskinen’s first NHL win is a game he never led.  The Islanders rallied three times from one-goal deficits and then Koskinen was a perfect 4-for-4 in the shootout as Kyle Okposo’s shootout tally gave the Isles a 4-3 win over the Canadiens before the 278th consecutive sellout crowd of 21,273 at Bell Center in Montreal.

Down Early
The first goal stat continues to grow.  The Isles allowed the first goal for the 15th time in the last 17 games when Max Pacioretty beat Koskinen at 14:10, however John Tavares tied the game 2:25 later.  It was Tavares’ 19th goal, tying Matt Moulson for the club lead (they would get company later), but his first in 11 games.

It’s Grabner Time… Again
Who is the hottest goal scorer in the NHL?  Since January 15th, it is Michael Grabner.  After Benoit Pouliot gave Montreal a 2-1 lead, Grabner tied the game at 17:10 of the second period off a gorgeous lead pass from Frans Nielsen.  It was Nielsen’s 100th point, joining teammates Blake Comeau and Kyle Okposo in accomplishing the milestone for the Islanders this season.  However, Tomas Plekanec scored 58 seconds later to give Montreal a 3-2 lead after two periods. It was Plekanec’s 300th NHL point, all with the Canadiens.  He is the 48th player to record 300 points for Montreal.

…and Again
There was only one goal in the third period, and again it was Grabner providing the tally at 4:08 of the period.  It’s Grabner’s 19th goal, tying Moulson and Tavares for the club lead.  Among NHL rookies, only Logan Couture (24) and Jeff Skinner (20) have more goals.  Grabner now has 10 goals in the last 12 games, dating back to January 15th. He leads the entire NHL in goals in that span. Grabner was also +2, raising his team-leading +/- rating to +6. Neither team scored the rest of the way, or in the overtime, setting the stage for the shootout.

Kyle’s the Shootout Star
The Canadiens opted to shoot first, but Koskinen stopped Brian Gionta, and Montreal’s three goal scorers: Pacioretty, Plekanic and Pouliot.  Alex Auld stopped Rob Schremp, Nielsen, and PA Parenteau before Okposo’s wrist shot beat Alex Auld for the shootout win.  It was only Kyle’s 2nd goal in 11 shootout attempts and his first game deciding goal.  4-3 (shootout) Final.

Shootout Stats
The Isles are 2-4 in the shootout this season (1-1 on the road).  It’s their first road shootout win since January 9, 2010 in Phoenix.  The Isles had played only one shootout on the road in the previous 42 games (in San Jose on November 11th).  Koskinen is the first goalie in Islander history to record his first NHL win in a shootout; two veteran netminders (Mike Dunham and Dwayne Roloson) recorded their first Islander win in a shootout.

Strange Stat of the Night
Montreal has played three sets of back-to-backs in the first ten days of February.  They have only two sets of back-to-backs remaining this season. This was the front-end of a back-to-back for the Isles; they still have seven sets of back-to-back remaining after this one.

Home and Road
The Isles are 18-29-7, and are 9-16-3 on the road. They are now 14-19-4 under Jack Capuano, including 13-11-2 in the last 26 and have won 7 of their last 12 road games (7-5-0).

The Canadiens are 30-20-6, and are 18-7-5 at home.   Montreal falls to 15-4-6 in one-goal games as they drop their third straight game (0-2-1),  which matches a season high.

Hard to Come From Behind
The Isles have allowed the first goal a league high 36 times, including 20 times on the road.  The Isles are 12-3-3 when they score first and 6-26-4 when they do not.  Tonight’s victory is the Isles’ first all season when they trailed after two periods (1-20-2).

In the Nets
Koskinen made 37 saves to record his first NHL win, and even his record at 1-1.  18 of the 37 saves came in the middle period, when Montreal outshot the Isles 20-10.   It’s his first victory at any level in 2011, having last won in the AHL on December 28.  Koskinen’s second period save on former Islander James Wisniewski was named the NHL Highlight of the Night by NHL Network.

Alex Auld finished with 30 saves as his record drops to 4-2-1.

Power Plays
The Isles were 0-3 on the power play while the Canadiens were 0-4.   The Isles penalty kill continues to sparkle; they have killed 22 of 23 (95%) over the last 7 games and 51 of 55 (91%) over the last 19 games.

In the Circle
The Isles won 29 of 61 (48%) face-offs.  Zenon Konopka won 8 of 12.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter, Kevin Poulin and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, Blake Comeau, and Nathan Lawson remain out. Jeremy Colliton missed his first game with a rib injury. The Isles have now lost a league-leading 356 man-games to injury.  Jesse Joensuu replaced Colliton on the active roster.  Ty Wishart was a healthy scratch.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 136 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 66-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 34 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.  Hal Gill did not dress for Montreal, ending his 109 consecutive-game streak, which was the longest on the team.

Grabner is the #1 Star
For his efforts, NHL Overtime (on Versus) honored Grabner as the #1 Star in the NHL tonight even though he somehow was not selected in Montreal as one of the game’s three stars. 

Ode to Trottier
The number 19 is royalty to the Isles, having been worn by Bryan Trottier.  In Trotts’ honor, the Isles now have three players (Moulson, Tavares and Grabner) who have each scored 19 goals – Tavares and Grabner also have three game point streaks.  Only four other teams have three players with at least 19 goals (Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose and Toronto); ten teams do not have a single player with 19 goals.

Grabner Climbing the Rookie Leaderboard
With one-third of a season to play, Grabner has a chance to do something no Islander rookie since Mike Bossy has done—score as many as 26 goals.  David Volek had 25 in 1988-89 and Trent Hunter had 25 in 2003-04. John Tavares had 24 last season. Bossy had a  club rookie-record of 53 in 1977-78.   Four rookies have led the Isles in goals: Billy Harris - 28 in 1972-73, Mike Bossy - 53 in 1977-78, Trent Hunter -25 in 2003-04 (tied with Mariusz Czerkawski) and Kyle Okposo-18 in 2008-09

Hit Parade
The Isles out-hit the Canadiens 24-14. Travis Hamonic led the way with six hits; Hamonic played a career high 27:54. Matt Martin had 2 hits, giving him 198 hits on the season.

Season Series Stats   
The teams split the season series, with each team winning twice; Montreal did earn five points to the Isles’ four.  The win is the Isles 3rd in their last nine trips to Montreal (3-6-0), however all three have been in either overtime or a shootout.  The Isles and Habs have completed their season series; the Isles still have games remaining with the 13 other Eastern Conference teams.

Happy Anniversary
21 years ago today (February 10, 1990):   Randy Wood scored in overtime as the Isles rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Bruins in Boston Garden.  Alan Kerr had tied the game with 2:13 to play as the first place Islanders stretched their unbeaten streak to five games and raised their record to 28-24-6.

All-time, the Isles are 6-6-3 on this date with their win tonight ending a six-game winless streak on this date (0-3-3) stretching back to 2000.

Up Next
Friday, February 11 Pittsburgh @ Islanders 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Isles head home to face a team with as many injury problems as they do as the Penguins visit Long Island for the team’s first meeting since last week’s Brent Johnson- Rick DiPietro goalie fight.  Noted pest Matt Cooke will miss the game, his 2nd of a four-game suspension while Sidney Crosby remains out and Evgeny Malkin will not see the ice until next season.  The Penguins needed to recall four players from the AHL to play in their win over Los Angeles on Thursday; expect many of the call-ups to be in the line-up on Friday as well.

The Isles have not won in Pittsburgh since 2007 but have more than held their own against the Penguins on Coliseum ice in recent years, going 3-0-2 in the last five games and 9-3-4 in the last 16 Coliseum matchups.

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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