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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 56

Isles 7, Sabres 6 (OT)

At this point, Michael Grabner could melt all of the snow remaining on Long Island…he’s that hot.  Grabner extended his goal scoring streak to five games, his multi-goal streak to three games, and became the first rookie in NHL history to record two hat tricks for two different teams in two separate seasons (he had one last season for Vancouver) as Grabner’s third tally came 2:55 into overtime as the Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 7-6 before a sellout crowd of 18,690 at the HSBC Arena.  The Islanders have won three straight games – equaling their season high and are 5-2-0 since the All-Star Break.

Busy First
Grabner scored on a wrap-around just 40 seconds into play to give the Isles an early lead with his team-leading 22nd goal.  It’s the first time this season that the Isles have scored in the game’s opening minute and the first time that the Isles scored first in consecutive games since December 23 (New Jersey) and December 26 (Montreal).

The Sabres responded with goals from Jochen Hecht and Drew Stafford 56 seconds apart before John Tavares evened the back-and forth contest at 12:49 of the session.  Stafford’s second goal, with 2:21 to play, gave the Sabres a 3-2 lead after one period.

Gerbe and Comeau Trade Goals
The Sabres grabbed the game’s only two-goal lead when Nathan Gerbe, who last month scored twice in five seconds against the Isles, gave the Sabres a 4-2 lead at 4:31 of the session.  The goal chased Mikko Koskinen and allowed Al Montoya to set Islander history by becoming the Isles’ 6th goaltender to be used this season.  IT was Montoya’s first NHL game since April 9, 2009 when he played for Phoenix.  Blake Comeau, playing his first game since being injured by a high check by Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot scored a key goal with 1:05 to play in the middle period. It was his 14th goal of the season.

Grabner Goes Multi
Grabner’s unassisted tally tied the game 4-4 at 3:00 of the third period.  With the goal, he became the first rookie in Islander history to record three consecutive multi-goal games. He is the first Islander with three consecutive multiple-goal games since Mariusz Czerkawski did so in March/April, 1998.

A Key 5-on-3
Tyler Meyers gave the Sabres a 5-4 lead at 5:26 of the third, but the game changed..again…with the Isles on a 5-on-3 midway through the period. Two Islander defenders, Milan Jurcina and Ty Wishart, scored 1:16 apart, first on a 5-on-3 and then on a 5-on-4. It was Wishart’s first NHL goal.  However, just 31 seconds later, Stafford completed his league-leading 4th hat trick and after the Islanders killed the first 1:45 of a Travis Hamonic penalty, the game headed to overtime.

Grabner’s dream week continued when he scored the winning goal to complete his hat trick at 2:55 of the extra session.  It was his 24th goal of the season, tying Logan Couture for the rookie lead. He has scored 21 times at even strength, only Steven Stamkos has more even-strength goals (25 of 40).  It was the first time an Islander game with at least twelve goals had gone to overtime since 2002, and the first time since February 28, 1993 (in Hartford) that the Isles had won an overtime game by a score of 7-6 or higher.  7-6 Final.

Hats Each Way
It’s the 10th time that the Isles and their opponent had a hat trick in the same game:

•    October 14, 1978: Denis Potvin/Darryl Sittler (Toronto)

•    March 30, 1980:  Butch Goring/Real Cloutier (Quebec)

•    October 21, 1982: Bryan Trottier/Ken Houston (Washington)

•    November 29, 1983:  Brent Sutter/Bernie Federko (St. Louis)

•    Jannuary 21, 1989: Pat LaFontaine/Dave Gagner (Minnesota)

•    October 15, 1991: Derek King/Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh)

•    December 10, 1991: Ray Ferraro/Brett Hull (St. Louis)

•    October 23, 1993: Derek King/Sylvain Turgeon (Ottawa)

•    December 3, 2006: Viktor Kozlov (4)/Brendan Shanahan (Rangers)

•    February 13, 2011: Michael Grabner/Drew Stafford (Buffalo)

Grabner’s Glory
Grabner has a 5-game goal streak -- 1st by an Islander since Ziggy Palffy (3/27-4/5/97).  He is the first Islander rookie to have a 5-game goal streak since Patrick Flatley had a 6-game streak in 1984-85.  Detroit’s Dan Cleary had a six-game goal scoring streak earlier this season; he is the only NHL player with a longer streak than Grabner, who became the first rookie to score in five consecutive game since Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan did so from 1/17-1/28/09.  Grabner now has nine goals in the last five games.   Since January 15th, Grabner has 15 goals in the last 14 games, by far the most of any player in the NHL (Entering play Sunday, no one else had more than eight).  For his efforts, he was named the NHL Network’s Performer of the Night and is a leading candidate for the NHL’s Player of the Week, which will be awarded at noon on Monday.

Without a Fight
The high scoring contest did not include a fight, which was quite a change from the Isles’ game on Saturday which included 346 penalty minutes, 183 on the Islanders.  Both marks were club records.

Strange Stats of the Game
The Isles have won their last two road games, despite trailing after two periods in both games.  The Isles opened the season going 0-20-2 in games that they trailed after two periods.

The Isles have won three times in four days for the first time since March 13-14-16, 2010.

It’s Been a Long Time…
…since the Isles scored 16 goals in two games.  They last did so on 1/23-1/26/1993 (8-4 vs Philadelphia, 8-2 vs New Jersey).  (The club record is 18)

...since the Isles scored 19 goals in three games. They also last did that in January 1983.

…since the Isles scored 22 in 4 and 27 in 5 games.  Both streaks go back to late in the 1996-97 season.

…won a game that they allowed 6 goals.  They had gone 0-105-2 in their last 107 since beating Hartford in February 1983.

…played in two games in which 25 goals were scored. On 11/12-14/ 1992, the Isles lost to Philadelphia 8-5 and then beat Buffalo 7-5.  (The club record is 26)

The Jurcina Effect
Milan Jurcina had a goal and assist, both on the power play.  In the 31 games that he has played, the Isles are 17-11-3.  They are 3-18-4 in the 25 games that he has missed.

Home and Road
The Isles are 20-29-7, and are 10-16-3 on the road. They are now 16-19-4 under Jack Capuano, including 15-11-2 in the last 28.  The Isles are 5-2-0 in February with seven games to play; it is their most wins in any month this season except for December (6-7-1).

The Sabres are 26-22-6 and 12-12-2 at home.

In the Nets
Koskinen was chased after stopping 10 of 14 shots.  His record remains 2-1-0.  Montoya stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced to earn the win.  It’s already the third time in 2011 that the Isles have won a game that included a goalie changes – the other two were due to injury.  Montoya, who turned 26 today, is now 4-1-0 in his NHL career.

Ryan Miller made 19 saves for Buffalo; the Isles scored 17 goals on 107 shots vs. Miller this season.  It’s only the third time in his career that he allowed seven goals.

Power Plays
The Isles went 2-6 on the power play and killed all three Sabre power plays.  It’s the first time since 12/31-1/3 that the Isles have scored multiple pp goals in consecutive games.

In the Circle
The Isles won 38 of 67 (57%) face-offs.  John Tavares won 11 of 16 for the Isles while Jochen Hecht lost 10 of 15 for Pittsburgh.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter, Kevin Poulin and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, Jeremy Colliton and Nathan Lawson remain out. The Isles have now lost a league-leading 376 man-games to injury.  Trevor Gillies and Matt Martin served the first of their nine and four game suspensions, respectively. Jack Hillen was scratched with a lingering effect from Friday’s game while Blake Comeau played for the first time in eight games.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 138 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 68-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 36 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles. 

Grabner Climbing the Rookie Leaderboard
Grabner needs just two goals in the final 26 games 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.

Season Series Stats   
The Isles win the season series three games to one (and six points to three).  They won both games in Buffalo for the first time since 2003-04.

Happy Anniversary
29 years ago today (February 13, 1982):   Bryan Trottier scored five straight goals as the Isles pounded the Flyers 8-2 at the Coliseum.  It’s the second 5-goal game of Trottier’s career; no Islander has done so since.  Trottier also had a club-record four goals in the second period.

All-time, the Isles are 8-5-1 on this date, including wins in their last four games (2004, 2007, 2010 and 2011)

Up Next
Tuesday, February 15 Islanders @ Ottawa 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Islanders conclude the season series with the Ottawa Senators as they play the Sens for the 2nd time in 11 days.  The Sens have won two of the first three, but the Isles defeated Ottawa 5-3 on February 5th.  The Isles will be looking for their first win in Ottawa since November 13, 2008, having gone 0-2-2 in the last four.

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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