By Eric Hornick
Isles 5, Buffalo 3
John Tavares recorded a natural hat trick in a 5:46 span of the second period as
the Isles rallied from a 1-0 deficit and went on to defeat the Buffalo Sabres
5-3 before 12,223 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Isles improve to
5-1-2 in their last eight games at home as they end a three-game winless streak
(0-2-1). It's only the 4th time this season that the Isles have won a game after
allowing the opening goal (4-19-4).
The Isles had fallen behind in the first five minutes of the last five games,
but ended the first period of this game scoreless. The Isles outshot Buffalo
Vanek Converts on a 5-on-3
The Isles took two penalties in the final 34 seconds of the first period and
Thomas Vanek made them pay 17 seconds into the second with his 17th goal of the
season. It's the 6th straight game and seventh time in eight games that the
Islanders have allowed the opening goal.
With the Isles trailing 1-0, it was time for Tavares to take over, recording the
first natural hat trick by an Islander since December 3, 2009 (Matt Moulson in
Atlanta) and his second hat trick of the season and career. Matt Moulson
recorded the first three assist game of his career, assisting on all three
tallies as he became the first Islander with three assists in a game this
season. Tavares now has eight goals in his last eight games. He has 18 goals
on the season, having played in 40 of the Isles' first 43 games. He is 23 games
ahead of last season's pace, when he scored goal 18 in Philadelphia on March
9th. The middle goal came on the power play. Tavares leads the Isles with 8
power play goals, but this was only his 2nd on home ice. Prior to scoring
against Vancouver on Tuesday, all six of his power play goals had come on the
Four Goal Period
Blake Comeau scored for the third straight game (5th in 6 games) and made it
a four-goal period when he beat Olympian Ryan Miller at 15:25. The four Isle
goals came in a span of 7:35 – one game after the Isles allowed four second
period goals to Ottawa in a 7:14 span. At that point Tavares and Comeau had
combined for the last six Islander goals. The Isles outshot Buffalo 18-14 in the
second period; the teams combined for 61 shots in two periods – matching
the Isles' single-game average.
Sabres Battle Back…But Grabner Puts it Away
Rookie Tyler Ennis recorded his 10th goal of the season at 5:55 of the 3rd. It
was the Sabres' second power-play goal of the game. Buffalo earned another
power play with 4:41 to play, but this time it was the Islanders who scored, as
Michael Grabner, dubbed by teammate Rick DiPietro as "the fastest guy on the
planet" in a post-game interview beat Miller for the first shorthanded goal of
his career and his 10th goal of the season. Ennis and Grabner are tied for 6th
in rookie goal scoring with 10; Grabner is the 5th rookie to score shorthanded.
A Jochen Hecht goal with 1:45 to play was merely window dressing as the Sabres
outshot the Isles 15-4 in the third. 5-3 Final.
Home and Road
The Isles are 14-22-7, including 8-8-4 at home. They are now 10-12-4 under Jack
Capuano, including 9-4-2 in the last 14. Buffalo falls below NHL .500 (19-20-5)
and are 9-9-4 on the road.
In the Nets
DiPietro returned for the first time since being injured in Calgary on January
3rd. He made 40 saves as he improved to 7-6-4. It's the ninth time in his
career DiPietro has made at least 40 saves. Ryan Miller made 32 saves for
Buffalo as he started for the 21st straight game.
The Isles went 1-3 on the power play while Buffalo went 2-5. The Isles are 9-23
(39%) in their last eight games on the power play and have killed 22 of 25 (88%)
over the last eight games. The Isles scored their 5th shorthanded goal,
matching their shorties allowed this season.
Hat Trick Stuff
John Tavares now has two hat tricks on the season; he's the first Islander since
Jason Blake in 2006-07 to have two hat tricks in a season. Tavares fell one
goal shy of the club/NHL record for goals in a period: 4, set by Bryan Trottier
on February 13, 1982 against the Flyers. He is the first Islander to score
three goals in a period since Blake did so on February 27, 2007 against
Philadelphia and the first to record a natural hat trick on home ice since Blake
did it against Atlanta on January 11, 2003. Tavares is the 9th player in the
NHL to have multiple hat tricks this season; Washington's Alex Semin is the only
one to have three hats. He is also tied for the league lead in goals in a
single game this season; no player has scored four since Thomas Vanek did so
late last season. He now has five goals in five career games against Buffalo.
In the Circle
The Isles won 37 of 58 (64%) face-offs. John Tavares won 10 of 15 and has now
won 25 of 36 over the last two games. He has won 52.8% of his draws this season
after winning 47.5% in his rookie campaign. All four Islander centers won at
least 60% of their draws.
Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo,
Doug Weight, Trent Hunter, Frans Nielsen and Rhett Rakhshani remain out; Dylan
Reese was the Isles' scratch. The Isles have now lost 269 man-games to injury.
Moulson Extends Streak
Matt Moulson, the Isles' reigning ironman, has played in all 125 games since
joining the team last season. Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have
played every game this season; his 55-game streak includes the final 12 games
last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 23 NHL games (all
consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the
Home Sweet Home
The Isles even their record on this homestand (1-1-1 with two games to play).
The Isles are three games into stretches of 13-of-20 and 19-of-29 at home. This
was the 1500th home game in Isles history (758-539-203); the 12,223 who attended
tonight's game were two more people than the 12,221 who attended the first home
game in Isles history (10-7-1972).
Season Series Stats
The Isles lead the season series one games to none. After not playing at all in
the first half of the season, the Isles and Sabres are meeting three times in a
nine-game span. The Isles have won four straight home games against Buffalo.
28 years ago today (January 15, 1983): John Tonelli recorded a hat trick as
the Isles defeated Los Angeles 5-2. It's one of three hat tricks for Tonelli in
an Islander uniform. Overall, the Isles are 7-10-2 all-time on this date.
Saturday, January 17- New Jersey @ Islanders 1:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 12:30), WRHU 88.7FM]
The Islanders entertain New Jersey on Monday afternoon in the traditional Martin
Luther King Day Matinee. The Isles have won both meetings of the teams this
season, outscoring the Devils, 7-1 and will be looking for their third straight
win over New Jersey for the first time since winning six straight from the
Devils (over two seasons) in 2007 and 2008.
This is the second straight season that the Isles have hosted New Jersey on MLK
Day. Rick DiPietro shut the Devils out, making 20 saves, last year. This will
be the 10th time since 1994 that the Isles have played the MLK Matinee. They
are 3-3-3 in the previous 9.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since
1982. Information contained in "The Skinny" has been gathered from various
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