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Thursday, March 03, 2011

The Skinny: Isles 4, Wild 1

"The Skinny"


By Eric Hornick


Game 65

Isles 4, Wild 1


Blake Comeau scored two goals and Frans Nielsen added three assists as the Islanders rebounded from their disappointing overtime loss in Washington on Tuesday to defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 before a crowd of 7,098 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.  Al Montoya made 33 saves for the Isles to raise his record to 4-2-1. The win ended a club-record-tying streak of losing four games, all by one goal (0-2-2).

Isles Grab the Lead Again

Blake Comeau's first goal came with just three seconds remaining on the Islanders' first power play.  It was his 16th goal of the season.  Kyle Okposo doubled the advantage with 1:23 to play in the opening session, scoring between his legs for his 4th goal of the campaign.  The Isles have now scored first in four straight games, but this was their first win in that stretch (1-1-2).

More Comeau

Comeau scored his second goal of the night at 41 seconds of the middle period.  It was his 17th goal of the season, matching last season's career-best total, and a career high 37th point.  Andrew MacDonald completed the Isles' portion of the scoring at 16:05 of the 2nd with a power play goal effort.  Josh Bailey set a great screen in front but did not get an assist – Kyle Okposo (his second point) and Frans Nielsen (his third assist of the night, matching a career best) earned the helpers.  The Isles have outscored their opponents 69-68 in the second period this season.

Madden Breaks Through for the Wild

Former Devil John Madden ended Montoya's bid for a shutout at 11:33 of the third but that was all the Wild could manage against Montoya. 4-1 Final.

Lots of Shots, but Top Line Held Off Board

John Tavares, PA Parenteau, and Matt Moulson were held off the board, but it wasn't because they were not trying.  The trio combined for 16 shots, including a career-high seven by Parenteau.  Tavares had five hits and four takeaways. Moulson has 28 goals while Tavares has 23.  With Michael Grabner having 25 goals, the Isles remain the only team in the NHL with three players with at least 23 goals.

Strange Stat of the Night

The Isles entered the game on a 2-27 drought on the power play while the Wild had killed 23 of their last 24.  So what happens?  Of course—the Isles score twice on the power play.

Minnesota entered the game in 10th place in the West, but had a chance to move as high as a tie for 6th with a win. Instead they dropped to 11th place when Anaheim beat Detroit.

Young D Gets it Done

The Isles defense corps had only 639 games of experience entering the game and Bruno Gervais (319) had nearly half of it.    Three of the Isles defensemen (Travis Hamonic, Ty Wishart and Mark Katic) are NHL rookies. 

Growing Up Together

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

·         Blake Comeau had two goals and leads the way with 112 points (49-63-112)

·         Frans Nielsen had three assists and now has 111 points (32-79-111)

·         Kyle Okposo had a goal and an assist.  He now has 108 points (43-65-108)

·         John Tavares has 107 points (47-60-107). 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.

Career Years

Several Isles reached career highs tonight:

·         Blake Comeau now has 17 goals (matching a career high) and 37 points (previous high 35).

·         Frans Nielsen now has a career high 27 assists.

·         Assistant Captain Andrew MacDonald played in his 50th game of the season (after playing 49 last year).  He will play his 100th NHL game on Saturday.

·         Al Montoya recorded his 4th victory, one more than he won in 2008-09 for Phoenix.

Fight Night

Zenon Konopka fought Brad Staubitz late in the second period.  Konopka also received a misconduct penalty on a play that saw Trevor Gillies, playing his first game after his nine-game suspension, ejected for checking from behind after coming to the aid of Justin DiBenedetto.  Komopka leads the NHL with 239 penalty minutes; he now has the 7th highest penalty minute total in a single season in Islander history. He also now has 504 penalty minutes over the past two seasons.

#23, Nystrom, #23

Eric Nystrom, son of Bobby, made his second appearance at the Coliseum, had one big chance in the first period, but was held scoreless.  Nystrom has played in every game for Minnesota this season, after playing every game for Calgary a year ago.

Home and Road

The Isles are 24-32-9, and are 13-15-4 at home.  They are 20-22-6 under Jack Capuano, including 19-14-4 in the last 37. 

Sharing the Wealth

The Isles are 19-14-4 in their last 37 games, and all six goalies that the Isles have used this season have wins during that stretch (DiPietro 4, Roloson 4, Poulin 4, Montoya 4, Koskinen 2, and Lawson 1).

In the Nets

Al Montoya made 33 saves to improve to 4-2-1 on the season.  He lowered his goals against average to 1.93 and raised his save percentage to .933.

Niklas Backstrom had won his previous four starts against the Isles but was chased after allowing three goals on 19 shots.  Backstrom falls to 20-16-4 on the season.  Jose Theodore made 21 saves in relief.

Power Plays

The Isles went 2-3 on the power play while the Wild were 0-3. The Wild did not stop the Isles on the third attempt either—the clock did—as the Isles played the final 28 seconds on the power play.  The power play goals ended a 2-27 drought for the Isles, covering eight games. The Isles have not allowed a power play goal in the last four games (11-11) and have killed 18-19 over the last seven games.   

In the Circle

The Islanders won 24 of 54 (44%) face-offs.  Zenon Konopka won five of his six draws while Josh Bailey split 14 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.  Micheal Haley missed his first game after being injured blocking an Ovechkin shot in Washington.  The Isles have lost 446 games to injury and 16 games to suspension this season.


Matt Moulson, the Isles' reigning ironman, has played in all 147 games since joining the team last season.  Zenon Konopka is the only other Isle to have played every game this season; his 77-game streak includes the final 12 games last season for Tampa Bay. Travis Hamonic has now played 45 NHL games (all consecutive); he has the longest consecutive game streak on defense for the Isles.  

Season Series Stats            

The Isles win the only meeting of the teams this season, and stop a five-game losing streak to the Wild. It's the Isles first win over Minnesota since Jason Blake scored all three goals in a 3-1 win over the Wild on March 19, 2004.

Happy Anniversary

1 years ago today (March 2, 2010): In the first game after the Olympic break, Blake Comeau records his first career hat trick as the Islanders defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3.  Thus, Comeau now has five goals in the last two March 2nd games.

All-time, the Isles are 9-10-4 on this date, but are 5-1-2 since 2000. The Isles have recorded two shutouts on this date, including a scoreless game in Pittsburgh in 1980.

Up Next

Saturday, March 5 Vs St. Louis 1:00pm

[MSG+ (Subway Islanders Game Night at 12:30), WRHU 88.7FM]

The Islanders have met every team in the NHL except one this season, and they will face that one on Saturday afternoon when the Blues visit the Coliseum in the only game between the teams this season.

The Blues beat the Isles twice last season, including a Coliseum game that was decided in a shootout last March.  This is the Isles' final game against the Western Conference.  The Isles' win against Minnesota guaranteed them a winning record against the Western Conference (7-5-5) for the 2nd straight season; they were 10-6-2 in 2009-10 against the West.

The Isles are 1-0-2 in their last three games at home against the Blues with the win coming in the 2008-09 season opener and representing former coach Scott Gordon's first NHL win.

Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in "The Skinny" has been gathered from various sources.

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

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