1. Following a scoreless first period, the Isles took command in the second period as Hunter tallied for the second straight game, just three seconds after an Islander power play expired.. It was the second goal in as many games for Hunter. Tavares then scored off a beautiful pass form Blake Comeau. It was his first goal since scoring five consecutive Islander goals between December 3rd and December9th.
2. After managing only eight shots on goal in the first 35 minutes, the Leafs picked up their play late in the second period and early in the third. Niklas Hagman scored Toronto's only goal to cut the Islanders' advantage in half early in the third period.
3. The Leafs pressed for, but could not find the equalizer. Comeau was awarded an empty-net goal with 35 seconds to play when he was pulled down from behind to provide the final margin of victory. It was Comeau's second goal in the last four games and the first time that the Isles had scored three goals in regulation since December 3rd.
...a few more...
4. Special teams didn't win this game for the Islanders, but contrary to recent games, they didn't lose it for them either. In a game featuring the League's worst two penalty killing teams, the Isles went 0-4 on the power play, but did get their first goal just after a power play ended. The Isles killed both Leaf power plays, which after allowing 8 pp goals in their last three games (all losses), certainly was a nice change.
5. The Islanders are 6-9-0 in their last fifteen games. In their six wins, the penalty kill has killed all 20 opposition power plays; In the nine losses, they have killed only 15 of 34 for an almost inconceivable 44% penalty kill percentage. The Isles have allowed at least one power play goal in 16 of their 17 regulation losses and have not allowed a pp goal in 11 of their 14 wins.
6. Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves to pick up the win. He has stopped 122 of 129 Leafs shots this season, in beating the Leafs twice in three tries. Jonas Gustavsson finished with 19 saves for Toronto. The Isles have earned 12 of their 14 wins and 29 of their 35 points with Roloson in goal.
7. Andy Sutton had a particularly strong game on defense, leading both teams with six hits and seven blocks. The Isles blocked more shots (29) that the Leafs actually got to the net (27).
8. Despite his recent scoring drought, Tavares still leads all rookies in goals (16) and points (28). He has three goals in three career games against the Leafs.
9. Phil Kessel, who has keyed Toronto's improved play of late, had three shots on goal but finished -2.
10. The Isles lead the season series two games to one, and four points to three. The teams will conclude the season series at the Coliseum on March 14th. The Isles are now 8-1-2 in their last 11 home games against Toronto. The Isles improve to 6-3-1 in their last ten games on December 23rd. They have earned 28 points on December 23rd's, which is the third highest total for any calendar day (33 on December 17 and 30 on December 26).
Up next: The Islanders travel to Madison Square Garden Saturday to meet the Rangers for the third time in ten days. The Islanders lead the season series two games to one after splitting a home-and-home series last week. The Isles won at the Garden last Wednesday night but since then the Rangers have won four straight. The Isle have won on Boxing Day in each of the last three seasons and are 10-2-2 in their last fourteen December 26th games.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick