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The Skinny

by Eric Hornick / New York Islanders
Game 63

Capitals 3, Isles 2

Mike Knuble and Alex Semin scored 3:17 apart early in the third period as the Capitals rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Isles before a sellout crowd of 16,250 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. 

Okposo Strikes First
The Isles came out strong, recorded the game’s first 11 shots, but the game remained scoreless until Kyle Okposo beat Michael Neuvirth with a wrist shot at 13:48 of the first for the opening session’s only goal and Okposo’s third goal of the season.  It was Okposo’s first goal since scoring twice on February 1st in Atlanta. The Isles outshot the Caps 14-5 in the first period.

Hamonic Doubles the Lead
Travis Hamonic missed a few shifts in the first period after blocking a shot, but returned to the game and put the Isles ahead 2-0 just 33 seconds into the second period. It was Hamonic’s third goal of the season.

Laich Gets Washington Back in the Game
A timeout by Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau helped changed the game.  Shortly thereafter, Brooks Laich scored at 9:44 into the middle period to get Washington on the board and begin the Capitals comeback.

Gets Away in the Third
The Caps gained some energy from the Laich goal but still trailed the Isles 2-1 after two periods.  Laich set up Knuble to tie the game at 2:24 of the third.  Alex Ovechkin assisted on Semin’s goal at 5:41 that turned out to be the winner. It’s only the 2nd time in 19 games (15-2-2) that the Isles have lost in regulation a game that they led after 40 minutes. 3-2  Final.

Fight Night
Zenon Konopka fought Mike Hendricks 2:26 into the second period.  Konopka leads the NHL with 224 penalty minutes.

A February to Remember
The Islanders finish February with two 10-goal scorers in Matt Moulson (10-3-13) and Michael Grabner (10-6-16).  It is the second time in club history that the Islanders have had multiple players score 10 goals in February.  In 1982, Bryan Trottier (17), Brent Sutter (13) and Mike Bossy (11) all reached double digits.  The Isles went 12-1-1 in February 1982 and scored 83 goals.

Strange Stat of the Night
The Caps entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations, but the Caps needed a victory tonight to have more points than the Isles over the last three months.  Since December 1, Washington is 16-14-8 for 40 points and the Isles are 18-20-3 for 39 points (18-14-3 since December 16).

Young Get Younger
The Isles defense corps had only 627 games of experience entering the game and Bruno Gervais (317) had more than half of it.    Three of the Isles defensemen (Travis Hamonic, Ty Wishart and Mark Katic) are NHL rookies; the average age of the 20 players that dressed was 24.58 years.  Back-up goalie Nathan Lawson was the 3rd oldest Islander in the line-up, behind Zenon Konopka and PA Parenteau.

Growing Up Together
The Islanders have had four players record their 100th career point, all of them in Islander uniforms, this season.

•    Blake Comeau leads the way with 110 points (47-63-110)

•    Frans Nielsen has 108 points (32-76-108)

•    John Tavares has 106 points (47-59-106). He is the second youngest player in Islander history (Bryan Trottier) to record 100 career points.

•    Kyle Okposo goal gives him 106 points as well (42-64-106)

With 229 points, Trent Hunter (injured) is the only player on the current roster to have recorded more points in an Islander uniform. 

Matt Moulson recorded his 100th career point in Toronto on Tuesday, however his first ten points came as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Veteran defender Radek Martinek has 97 career points, all as an Islander.

Home and Road
The Caps improve to 33-20-10, and are 16-12-3 on the road.  The Caps are three points behind Tampa Bay, but the Lightning have played two fewer games.

The Isles are 23-32-8, and are 12-15-4 at home.  They are 19-22-5 under Jack Capuano, including 18-14-3 in the last 35.  The Isles finish February 8-4-1; it’s their first 8-win month since November, 2008.

In the Nets
Michael Neuvirth made 29 saves to beat the Islanders for the 2nd time this season and improve to 19-10-4 overall. Neuvirth, who allowed five goals for the first time this season on Friday at the Garden, kept the Caps in the game in the first period, and stopped the final 16 Islander shots.  He is now one win shy of the Capitals’ record for wins (20) by a rookie goaltender, set by Bob Mason in 1986-87.  Mason’s rookie season would end early on Easter morning on a Pat LaFontaine goal in the 4th overtime.

Al Montoya made 19 saves, but drops to 3-2-1.  He is now 5-3-1 in nine career starts and 6-3-1 overall.

Power Plays
The Isles went 0-4 on the power play while the Caps were 0-2.  The Isles have not allowed a power play goal in the last three games (6-6) and have killed 13-14 over the last five games. Washington, on the other hand, has now gone a club-record 39 straight games without scoring more than one power play goal in a game.

In the Circle
The Islanders won 27 of 57 (47%) face-offs.  John Tavares won 13 of 20, while Zenon Konopka won all four of his draws.

Missing Men
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter, Kevin Poulin and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, Radek Martinek, and Milan Jurcina remain out.  Trevor Gillies served the eighth game of his nine-game suspension.  The Isles have lost 427 games to injury and 15 games to suspension this season.  Both Nathan Lawson and Rob Schremp were placed on waivers on Saturday morning, but both players dressed.  Schremp was -2 in 13:46 of ice-time.

Missing Milan   
The Isles are 0-2-1 in the last three games, and Milan Jurcina has played only 2:18 in that stretch, missing each of the last two games. The Isles have gone 20-13-3 when Jurcina plays and 3-19-5 in the 27 games that he's missed.

Matt Moulson, the Isles’ reigning ironman, has played in all 145 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 75-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 43 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles. 

Season Series Stats   
The Caps lead the season series three games to none, and six points to none.  All three meetings have been decided by a single goal.  The teams will meet again on Tuesday in Washington.  The Caps have gone 10-0-1 in the last eleven games against the Isles but four of the Capital wins have been in overtime or shootouts.

With the Isles’ improved play, attendance has been on the rise, culminating in the season’s first sellout tonight.  It is the fifth straight 12,000+ crowd after only six crowds that large in first 26 games.  It is also the third straight 13,000+ crowds in nearly 2 years (March 5-April 2, 2009  -- six straight games)

Happy Anniversary
24 years ago today (February 26, 1987): Dale Henry and Neal Coulter were two of the lesser-known Isles who scored goals in a 5-4 Islander win over Pittsburgh. Mike Bossy and Pat Lafontaine also tallied; it was the 567th goal out of 573 career tallies for Bossy. 

All-time, the Isles are 2-9-5 on this date, including a 0-5-3 record since the 1987 win over Pittsburgh. 

Up Next
Tuesday, March 1 @ Washington 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The home-and-home series concludes on Tuesday as the teams will meet in the District.  The Isles will be looking to avoid a season sweep; the Caps have won the first three games, all by a single goal.

The only Islander win in the past three seasons over the Capitals came in overtime on October 30, 2009.  Mark Streit scored the winning goal in that game.

And Finally…
Congratulations to the Union College Dutchmen, who won the Cleary Cup by finishing in first place in the ECAC Hockey League. Guess where  “The Skinny” author went to school.

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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