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The Skinny on the Playoff Race

Updating for all of Saturday's results: Saturday's Games Rangers 3, Isles 2 (SO) Philadelphia 1, New Jersey 0 Washington 4, Tampa Ba...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Skinny: Isles 6, Pittsburgh 3

"The Skinny"  

By Eric Hornick
Game 44
Isles 6, Penguins 3

Kyle Okposo became the first Islander to score four goals at the Coliseum in over 22 years and the Islanders erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits for a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh before yet another sellout crowd of 16,170 on Bryan Trottier Mini Locker Night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

It's the 30th win of the season for the Isles, who remain tied with Nashville for the NHL lead in wins and once again move one point ahead of Tampa Bay for the conference lead.

The Isles are a season-high 17 games over NHL-.500. It's the first time that the Isles are at least 17 games over NHL .500 since the defending Stanley Cup Champions ended the 1983-84 season with a record of 50-26-4. 

The Isles lead the Metropolitan Division by three points over the Penguins.

The Scoring:
1st Period
10:52    PIT       PPG - Sidney Crosby (13) ASST: Chris Kunitz (15), Evgeni Malkin (31)     1 - 0 PIT           
12:22    PIT       PPG - David Perron (9) ASST: Kris Letang (20), Sidney Crosby (36)         2 - 0 PIT           
16:51    NYI       Kyle Okposo (10) ASST: John Tavares (21), Josh Bailey (9)        2 - 1 PIT           
2nd Period
12:31    NYI       Ryan Strome (8) ASST: Anders Lee (5), Frans Nielsen (14)           2 - 2 Tie           
19:55    PIT       Sidney Crosby (14) ASST: Paul Martin (8), Kris Letang (21)          3 - 2 PIT           
3rd Period  (A scoring change was made days after the game on the 3-3 goal)
06:42    NYI       Kyle Okposo (11) ASST: John Tavares (22), Josh Bailey (10), Thomas Hickey       3 - 3 Tie           
11:51    NYI       Kyle Okposo (12) ASST: Josh Bailey (11), Travis Hamonic (8)     4 - 3 NYI          
17:29    NYI       PPG - Kyle Okposo (13) ASST: Brock Nelson (14), John Tavares (23)      5 - 3 NYI          
18:47    NYI       EN - Michael Grabner (3) ASST: NONE   6 - 3 NYI
The Skinny:
Kyle Okposo is the first Islander to score four goals since Matt Moulson (12-3-11 at Dallas) and the first to do so at the Coliseum since Steve Thomas did so in the final game of the 1991-92 season against New Jersey… Josh Bailey recorded the third three-assist game of his career; all three are against the Penguins; he now has 195 points, tied with Butch Goring for 41st place in Isles history…John Tavares also recorded three assists…. All three finished with +3 ratings, as did Travis Hamonic; it was the first time since April 18, 2013 that four (or more) Isles finished with ratings of at least +3…Sidney Crosby recorded his 15th game with at least three points against the Isles; it was only the Isles' 2nd victory (2-13-0) in those games…The Isles are 14-4-0 when allowing the first goal, and improve to 4-8-0 when trailing after two periods…Either Crosby or Malkin has a point on 17 of the last 19 Penguin goals…Jaroslav Halak in 12-1-0 in his last 13 at home…The Isles scored four goals in the third period for the second time this season (October 14 at MSG) and for the first time in any period at the Coliseum since January 6th vs. Dallas…The Isles improve to 21-5-1 against the Eastern Conference; they were 23-23-8 vs. the East last season…

Milestone Men
John Tavares' first assist was his 200th as an Islander; he is the 15th Isle to reach that mark…Chris Kunitz recorded his 500th NHL point for Pittsburgh.

Metropolitan Division Standings (Top 4)
·         ISLES           30-13-1=61 points (24 ROW)  Beat Pittsburgh 6-3
·         Pittsburgh     26-11-6=58 points (24 ROW)  Lost to Islanders 6-3
·         Washington  24-12-8=56 points (23 ROW)  Lost to Nashville 4-3
·         NY Rangers  25-13-4=54 points (23 ROW)  Beat Columbus 2-1

Schedule through All-Star Break:
·         Isles:  @ Montreal Sat, Vs Philadelphia Mon
·         Pittsburgh: Vs NY Rangers Sun, @Philadelphia Tue, Vs Chicago Wed
·         Washington: @Dallas Sat, Vs Edmonton Tue
·         NY Rangers: @ Pittsburgh Sun, Vs Ottawa Tue

The Isles retain the Division lead this late in the season, for the first time since February 18, 1990:
Patrick Division
NY Islanders
NY Rangers
New Jersey
Year of the Fan:
The Isles have sold-out their last four home games, six of the last seven and ten of their nineteen home dates this season. The ten sellouts are the most for the Isles since they had 12 full houses at the Old Barn in 2007-08. 

Comparable Records
The Isles are 30-13-1 thru 44 games.  The Isles were 15-22-7 through 44 games and 16-22-7 through 45 games last season, when they did not record their 30th win until they defeated Florida, 4-2 on April 1st  (30-35-10).

Most wins in first 44 games:
·         30-13-1 in 2014-15
·         29-6-9 in 1978-79
·         28-14-2 in 1983-84
·         27-10-7 in 1976-77
·         26-10-8 in 1980-81
·         25-13-6 in 1981-82
·         25-12-1 in 1984-85

Most points in first 44 games:
·         67 in 1978-79
·         61 in 1976-77
·         61 in 2014-15
·         60 in 1980-81
·         58 in 1983-84
·         56 in 1981-82
Home Sweet Home
The Isles are 15-4-0 on Coliseum ice, tying the club record for most wins through 19 home games (15-0-4 in 1978-79).  They have had more than 28 points through 18 home games only once: 15-0-4 for 34 points in 1978-79.

The Isles have had a season of streaks, going 4-0-0 to open the season and then (in succession) 0-2-0, 2-0-0, 0-3-0, 13-2-0, 0-3-0, 7-1-1, 0-2-0, before winning their last four games.

Winning Streaks (Season)
2 streaks of at least 5 games -- First time since the 1987-88 season that the Isles have had two winning streaks of at least five games.
5 streaks of at least 4 games -- First time since the 1984-85 season that the Isles have had five winning streaks of at least four games.
7 streaks of at least 3 games -- First time since the 1984-85 season that the Isles have had at least seven winning streaks of at least three games.

The Shots:
Isles                 11-8-16=35
Pittsburgh           10-9-5=24
The Isles have held their last 15 opponents to under 30 shots and their last 13 opponents to 27 shots or fewer; it's the first time that they have done this in at least 27 years.
Hot Shots:
The Isles have outshot their last 13 opponents 456-293 and have outshot their last 15 opponents 530-346.           
On the season, the Isles have outshot their opponents 1,450-1,179 for a +271 shot differential. The club record for differential for a season is +307 in 1976-77. The Isles have had only two other seasons over +150: (+254 in 1986-87 and +152 in 1975-76).
Isles had 2,537 shots on goal last season, most since a franchise-record 2,616 in 1992-93. Isles are currently on pace for a record-breaking 2,702 shots this year.

Home and Road
The Islanders are 30-13-1 overall; 15-4-0 at home and 15-9-1 on the road.  
Pittsburgh is 26-11-6 overall; 16-6-2 at home and 10-4-4 on the road.  

By Division
The Isles are 14-2-0 in Division games and are 16-11-1 in games against other divisions. They are 7-3-1 vs. the Atlantic Division, 4-5-0 vs. Central Division, and 5-3-0 vs. the Pacific Division.
The Isles finished last season 10-16-4 against the Met. 

Metropolitan Hockey Club, Inc.
The Isles are 14-2-0 against the Met Division.  They are 8-0-0 at home and 6-2-0 on the road. The Isles are 6-0 in overtime/shootouts against division foes, going 4-0 at home and 2-0 on the road.

In the Nets
Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves to improve to 24-8-0 on the season, including 21-4-0 in his last 25 games.  He is 5-4-0 in his career against the Penguins, and entered the game with the lowest goals against of any active player against Pittsburgh.
Marc Andre-Fleury made 29 saves but falls to 22-8-4 on the season. He is 20-8-4 in his career against the Isles, but his 1-1-1 against the Isles this season.   

Just Call Him Cy Halak
Halak's 24-8 (and 0) record would not only make him an NHL All-Star, it would also make him a candidate for the Cy Young Award.  The only pitcher in the last 40 years to finish with a 24-8 record was elected to the Hall-of-Fame earlier this month: John Smoltz (1996). Smoltz did win the Cy Young that season.

24-Win Club
Halak is the 7th goalie in Islander history to win at least 24 games in a season:
Player               24-win seasons
Chico Resch                 3
Rick DiPietro                 3
Billy Smith                    2
Jaroslav Halak              1
Ron Hextall                   1
Roland Melanson          1
Chris Osgood               1
The club record for wins in a season is 32, shared by Billy Smith, Chris Osgood and Rick DiPietro.
Power Plays
The Islanders were 1-3 on the power play, while Pittsburgh was 2-2.
The power play is 1-17 (5.9%) in the last five games after going 7-20 (35%) in the previous four games.
The penalty kill is 27-31 (87.1%) over the last 13 games.
The Isles are 16-5-0 when they score at least one power play goal and 14-8-1 when they do not.  The Isles are 12-9-0 when they allow at least one power play goal and 18-4-1 when they do not. 

Three is a Magic Number
The Isles are 24-4-1 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 6-9-0 when they do not. 

One Goal Games
The Isles are 18-3-1 in games decided by a single goal including 7-3-0 in regulation. They are 5-0 in games decided in overtime and are 6-1 in shootouts.  Four games have been decided by two goals in which the second goal was an empty-netter.  The Isles are 3-1 in those games.

First Goal (and Second Goal)
The Isles are 16-9-1 when they score first and are 14-4-0 when they allow the opening goal.  However, the Isles are 12-0-0 when they allow the opening goal but score the second goal.  Their other win when trailing 2-0 came vs. New Jersey on December 15 (3-2 shootout win)

Second to The One
Jack Capuano is the 2nd winningest coach in Islander history. Capuano is 148-133-40 behind the Islander bench. Among the 9 New York teams, only the Giants' Tom Coughlin and the Yankees' Joe Girardi have led their respective teams longer than Capuano.

Most games coached (Islanders):
1.     Al Arbour 1,500
2.     Jack Capuano 321
3.     Mike Milbury 191
4.     Terry Simpson 187
5.     Scott Gordon 181
Most wins by Islander coaches:
1.     Al Arbour 740
2.     Jack Capuano 148
3.     Terry Simpson 81
4.     Peter Laviolette 77
5.     Ted Nolan 74
They Said It
John Tavares:  "We expect to win against anybody we play against…It was a special night for [Kyle]…The way he's been playing and having opportunities, it was only a matter of time that something like this was going to happen. I know he's been wanting to put the puck in the net a little more frequently, and it's great the way he stepped up tonight."  "
Kyle Okposo: "The fans were doing it, and they were loud tonight.  It was a pretty cool thing for us. We love it. We get excited when we hear it after we score. Hopefully they'll be doing it all year for us."

They Tweeted It
@B9ers Move over Bossy, Trottier, Smith and say hello to Tavares, Okposo, Halak
@DomPeragine15 I loved hearing the crown chant USA when Okposo was getting interviewed tonight
@matt_berenberg okposo had a 4 goal game. congrats to amazing playing for an organization on its way back to the top
@ DavePolaski Kyle Okposo scores 4 goals as 1st place #Isles bulldoze Penguins 6-3. Another sellout crowd of 16.170 at @Nassau_Coliseum tonight!
@peconicgp This #Isles game was my Christmas present to my kids.  My son said: "Best present ever!!!" and he is a Rangers fan..

The Coach
"We came up big when we had to in the third period. We went back to puck-protecting and trying to grind that team down, and we had extensive [offensive] zone time in the third period."

With the win tonight, the Isles are 7-1-0 in the front-end and 6-1-0 on the back end of back-to-backs this season.  The Isles have swept 5 sets of back-to-back this season and are 1-1-0 in two sets.
The back-to-back set concludes on Saturday in Montreal.

Leading Ice Men
Johnny Boychuk led all Isles with 23:31 of ice-time; Kris Letang led Pittsburgh in ice-time with 22:59.
Isles record by ice-time leaders: Johnny Boychuk (12-3-0), Travis Hamonic (9-1-1), Lubomir Visnovsky (2-1-0) John Tavares (2-4-0), Thomas Hickey (3-0-0), Nick Leddy (0-2-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0) and Calvin deHaan (1-2-0).
John Tavares led all Isles forwards with 19:22 of ice-time. Isles record by Forward ice-time leaders: John Tavares (15-12-1), Kyle Okposo (11-0-0), Ryan Strome (1-0-0), Brock Nelson (1-1-0), Frans Nielsen (1-0-0) and Casey Cizikas (1-0-0). 

In the Circle
The Islanders won 30 of 60 draws (50%).  Casey Cizikas won 12 of 20 for the Isles; Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Sutter each won 10 of 15 for Pittsburgh. The Isles won 14 of 22 draws (64%) in the first period but then won only 16 of 38 (42%) the rest of the way. The Isles won 3 of 4 draws on the power play and 3 of 3 draws on the penalty kill.

Heavy Hitters
The Isles were out-hit 47-44.  Matt Martin led the Isles with eight hits while Cal Clutterbuck added seven. 
There were no fights. The Isles have been involved in nine fights this season: Martin (6), Hamonic (2), Lee (1), and all but one of the fights (Martin vs. Minnesota) have been against Metropolitan Division opponents.

Giving Up the Body
The Isles were credited with 15 blocked shots; three players each had two.

For the Corsi Crowd
The Isles finished with a total Corsi advantage of 73-49 (including 31-16 in the first period), which measures shots attempted for and against (including blocks).
Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome led the Isles with a +18 even-strength Corsi rating; Lee was also on-ice for a team-leading 78% of Corsi For events. Evgeni Malkin (+11) led Pittsburgh but Sidney Crosby was -14.

Head of the Class
Islander Captain John Tavares has 356 career points; he is 67 points ahead of Matt Duchene for most among 2009 draft picks.  No other player in that draft is anywhere close.  Tavares also has more goals and more assists than any other player in that draft.

All-time Winners
The Islanders improve to 23 games over all-time NHL .500 (1435-1412-451 in 3,298 games).  It's the first time that the Isles have been 23 games over since March 20, 2009.
The Isles have not been more than 1 game under NHL-.500 since January 11, 1978 and have finished every season since 1977-78 over all-time NHL .500.

Nick Leddy and Brock Nelson are the Islanders' reigning ironmen.  Leddy has played 296 consecutive regular season NHL games, while Nelson has played 96 consecutive regular season Islander games.

Missing Men
Matt Carkner and Lubomir Visnovsky are on injured reserve. Mikhail Grabovski (injured), Matt Donovan and Eric Boulton were scratched. 
The Isles have lost 157 games this season due to injury/illness.

All-time Islander Leader Board:
John Tavares has:
·         155 goals (14th all-time, 5 behind Pat Flatley and 13 behind Ziggy Palffy)
·         202 assists (15th all-time and 47 behind Tomas Jonsson)
·         357 points (14th all-time , 12 behind Stefan Persson and 86 behind Billy Harris)
·         394 games played (39th among Islander skaters all-time, 2 behind David Volek and 8 behind Jean Potvin)
Kyle Okposo has:
·         112 goals (23rd all-time, 4 behind Ray Ferraro and 6 behind Steve Thomas, Matt Moulson and Mark Parrish)
·         183 assists (tied-17 all-time with Frans Nielsen, 10 behind Pierre Turgeon and 19 behind John Tavares)
·         295 points (tied-19th all-time with Mariusz Czerkawski and 36 behind Ziggy Palffy)
·         434 games played (32nd among Islander skaters all-time, 4 behind Josh Bailey and 16 behind Scott Lachance)
Frans Nielsen has:
·         94 goals (32nd all-time, 1 behind Mikko Makela and David Volek and 5 behind Trent Hunter)
·         183 assists (tied-17th all-time with Kyle Okposo, 10 behind Pierre Turgeon and 19 behind John Tavares)
·         277 points (23rd all-time, 9 behind Ed Westfall and 18 behind Kyle Okposo)
·         490 games played (25th among Islander skaters all-time, 3 behind Ed Westfall and 18 behind Rich Pilon)
Michael Grabner has:
·         85 goals (37th all-time, 2 behind Butch Goring and 7 behind Travis Green)
Josh Bailey has:
·         438 games played (31st among Islander skaters all-time, 12 behind Scott Lachance and 21 behind Trent Hunter)

Season Series Stats
The Isles lead the season series 3 games to 1 (and 6 points to 3). 
After losing the first matchup, the Isles have won three straight from the Penguins and are 4-3-1 in the last eight vs. Pittsburgh.  The teams will meet one last time, in Pittsburgh on April 10th.
It's the first time since December 29, 2010- February 11, 2011 that the Isles have won consecutive home games from the Penguins.

25 years ago tonight (1990) – Glenn Healy made 51 saves as the Isles extended their winning streak to seven straight games and their home winning streak to eight with a 3-0 win over Vancouver. 
Randy Wood's second period goal was all the Islanders needed, but Hubie McDonough and Patrick Flatley (the latter into an empty net) added third period tallies.
Healy's 51 saves are the most an Islander goaltender ever made in a shutout, ''You don't want to be the goat who causes the streak to end,'' Healy told Joe Lapointe of the NY Times. ''We know, sooner or later, the streak is going to stop. They've been coming in bunches. There are a lot of doubters out there and a lot of people who couldn't believe we are for real. We know what it's like to lose, to be on the bottom. We know what the heartache is. We're trying to keep this snowball going.''
This was the final home game before the All-Star break; the Isles would win two road games before the break to extend their winning streak to 9. They have not had a winning streak of that length since.
With the win, the Isles, who were 5-18-3 at one point earlier in the campaign, reached .500 (21-21-4).
Also on this date: (1979) – Denis Potvin recorded his fourth career hat trick as the Isles beat Washington 6-2.
All-time, the Isles have played eight January 16th games at the Coliseum and finish with a 6-2-0 record on this date at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale. 

On The Farm
Kael Mouillierat's third period goal earned the Sound Tigers a point Bridgeport fell to 18-15-4-1 on the season, after a 3-2 overtime loss in Providence.  The Sound Tigers host Syracuse on Saturday and Sunday.

Up Next
[MSG+ (Isles Pre-game at 6:30), 88.7 WRHU-FM, 103.9 WRCN]
The Islanders will look for their third five game win streak of the season, as they face the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
The Canadiens lead the season series 1 game to 0 after a 3-1 Coliseum win just before Christmas.  The Isles are 7-5-1 in their last 13 games against the Habs, including 4-2-0 in their last six games in Montreal.
The season series will conclude March 14th at the Coliseum.
Eric Hornick has been the statistician on Islander home game telecasts since 1982. Information contained in "The Skinny" has been gathered from various sources.  Follow Eric @ehornick on Twitter & on his blog www.nyiskinny.com.
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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