By Eric Hornick
Devils 3, Isles 2 (shootout)
Blake Comeau scored the tying goal with 3:42 to play to extend the Islander point streak to four straight games (2-0-2) but the New Jersey Devils prevailed in a 6-round shootout (longest of the season for the Isles) to defeat the Islanders 3-2 before a near-capacity crowd of 15,893 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Islanders are 10-5-3 since the All-Star Break, while the Devils improve to an unbelievable 20-2-2 over their last 24 games.
A Scoreless First
Neither team scored in a Devil-paced first period. It was the 13th consecutive first period that the Devils had blanked their opponent, setting a modern NHL record.
Each Power Play Connects in the Second
The Devils grabbed the lead on a Brian Rolston power play goal at 4:09 of the second period – the first time in the last six games that the Isles allowed the opening goal. Ten of his 12 goals have come during the 24-game stretch. The Isles responded with a power play goal of their own off the stick of Josh Bailey. It was Josh's 4th goal in the last 11 games, and extended his point streak to three games. The Isles have now outscored their opponents 19-5 in the first two periods over the last nine games (9-1 in the first period and 10-4 in the second period).
Trading Goals in the Third
The hotter-than-hot Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils the lead at 2:52 of the third. It was Kovalchuk's 10th goal in the last 16 games (10-9-19); he is +12 during that stretch. For a long while, it looked like the Devils, who came in as the first NHL team in 60 years (February 1951 Red Wings) to win three consecutive 2-1 games would make it four – until Islander pressure led to a David Steckel giveaway that Blake Comeau cashed in for the tying goal. It was Comeau's 50th career goal. Comeau has now set career highs in goals (18), assists (20) and points (38); he is the first player drafted by the Islanders to record 50 goals for the team since Ziggy Palffy did so in 1995-96.
Rolston the Hero
The Isles had several great chances in overtime, outshooting New Jersey 4-2 in the extra session but neither team scored. That sent the game to a shootout. After Frans Nielsen converted in round one of the shootout…again… Kovalchuk tied the shootout in the second round. Nobody else scored until Rolston won the shootout and the game for New Jersey in the 6th round. 3-2 (shootout) Final.
Strange Stats of the Day
The Isles have been held to 22 shots in each of the last two games. It's the first time since December 23-26, 2009 that the Isles have been held to 22 shots or fewer in consecutive games.
The Devils are now 17-7-4 in one goal games, including 12-1-2 during their 24-game streak.
Brodeur now has 46 wins over the Islanders; more than any other opponent. He has won 117 games in his career in March, more than any other month.
As Seen on MSG+
John Tavares and Michael Grabner each have 19 points since the All-Star Break, leading the entire NHL in scoring in that time-frame.
Growing Up Together
The Islanders have had four players record their 100th career point, all of them in Islander uniforms, this season.
· Blake Comeau now has more career points than any healthy Islander. His key goal in the third period gives him 113 points (50-63-113)
· Frans Nielsen has 112 points (32-80-112)
· Kyle Okposo assisted on Bailey's goal and now has 109 points (43-66-109)
· John Tavares also has 109 points (48-61-109). He is the second youngest player in Islander history (Bryan Trottier) to record 100 career points.
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 has 101 career points; 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 Isles are 25-32-10, and are 14-15-5 at home. They are 21-22-7 under Jack Capuano, including 20-14-5 in the last 39. Their 60 points is one more than they managed in the entire 2008-09 season.
The Devils are 30-31-4, and are 14-18-1 on the road. They are 20-2-2 in their last 24 after opening the season 10-29-2. They are within 1 game of NHL .500 for the first time since opening the season 1-2-1.
Fort Rarely Lose
The Isles are 4-1-1 in their last six at home; they have outscored the opposition 21-9 in those six games. Since the All-Star Break, the Islanders are 6-3-1 at home.
Sharing the Wealth
The Isles are 20-14-5 in their last 39 games, and all six goalies that the Isles have used this season have wins during that stretch (Montoya 5, DiPietro 4, Roloson 4, Poulin 4, Koskinen 2, and Lawson 1).
In the Nets
Al Montoya made 27 saves, and stopped four of six shootout attempts. He is now 5-2-2 with a 1.93 goals against average and a 93.1% save percentage. The Flyers scored twice on Montoya in the first two periods on February 24th. It's the only time in his eight starts for the Isles that he has allowed more than one goal in the first 40 minutes.
Marty Brodeur improves to 17-19-2. Brodeur, who has never had a losing season, is 12-1-1 in last 14 appearances; he has not allowed more than three goals in a game since the Isles scored five goals on him on December 23rd.
The Isles went 1-3 on the power play while the Devils scored nine seconds into their only power play opportunity. The Isles are 3-9 on the power play over the last three games and are only the second team to score a power play goal against New Jersey in the last 11 Devil games (26-28).
In the Circle
The Islanders won 19 of 47 (40%) face-offs. John Tavares won seven of 15 for the Isles, while Travis Zajac won 13 of 19 for the Devils.
Matt Martin had seven hits, giving him 13 in the back-to-back games. The Isles out-hit New Jersey 35-17; every Islander but Michael Grabner had at least one. Martin now has 238 hits, just one behind Dustin Brown for third place in the league. Martin is 60 hits behind league-leader Cal Clutterbuck; he is second in hits per game behind Clutterbuck as well. Each of the players ahead of Martin has played at least 11 more games.
Mike Mottau, Trent Hunter, Kevin Poulin and Mark Eaton are out for the season. Mark Streit, Doug Weight, Rick DiPietro, and Radek Martinek remain out. Milan Jurcina returned after missing five games; he replaced Mark Katic, who was returned to Bridgeport. Trevor Gillies served the second game of his 10-game suspension. The Isles have lost 467 games to injury and 18 games to suspension this season.
Matt Moulson, the Isles' reigning ironman, has played in all 149 games since joining the team last season. Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 79-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 47 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.
Cappy's First 50
First 50 records of recent Islander coaches:
· Jack Capuano 21-22-7 (49 points)
· Scott Gordon 16-29-5 (37 points)
· Ted Nolan 23-21-6 (52 points)
· Steve Stirling 24-20-5-1 (54 points)
· Peter Laviolette 25-17-5-3 (58 points)
· Butch Goring 13-30-6-1 (33 points)
· Rick Bowness 21-23-6 (48 points) (over two seasons)
· Mike Milbury 14-28-8 (36 points)
Capuano's record is noticeably better through 50 games than Hall-of-Fame coach Al Arbour (14-23-13 for 41 points).
Points Since December 15th
The Isles were 5-18-5 before taking on the Ducks on December 16th. Since then, they have recorded the most points in the Atlantic Division and second-highest total in the NHL:
Standings since December 15th (and including all of Sunday's games)
Boston 22 10 4 48
NY Islanders 20 14 5 45
New Jersey 21 12 2 44
Tampa Bay 20 11 3 43
Washington 18 9 6 42
Buffalo 19 11 4 42
Montreal 18 12 5 41
Carolina 18 14 5 41
Pittsburgh 17 11 6 40
Philadelphia 19 12 1 39
Toronto 17 14 5 39
NY Rangers 16 16 3 35
Florida 13 15 9 35
Atlanta 10 17 7 27
Ottawa 9 18 6 24
Season Series Stats
The season series is even at two games each, with the Isles leading in points, 5-4. The Isles went 1-1-1 at home against the Devils this season; the final two meetings (March 12 and March 30) will be at the Prudential Center.
34 years ago today (March 6, 1977): Four years before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, Chico Resch made 27 saves to become the only Islander goalie to ever blank the Rockies, defeating New Jersey 5-0 at McNicholls Sports Arena in Denver.
All-time, the Isles are 8-9-3 on this date, having gone 0-6-2 since beating Buffalo in 1998.
Tuesday, March 9 vs Toronto 7:00pm
[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 6:30), WRHU 88.7FM]
The Islanders meet Toronto for the final time this season on Tuesday night. It's the fourth game of the five-game homestand; the Isles are 2-0-1 in the first three.
It's the third time in the past five Tuesdays that the teams have played. The Islanders will hope for a less-eventful warm-up than in Toronto's first visit four weeks ago – Poulin suffered a season-ending injury in that pre-game warmup.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in "The Skinny" has been gathered from various sources.