For 40 minutes, the Islanders
looked like that they were going to go into the Olympic break on a high note, sweeping a pair of back-to-backs, and winning three of the final four before the two week hiatus. Unfortunately, then they played the third period. On to the trick:
1. Each team scored once in the first period. Jarkko Ruuttu beat Dwayne Roloson for his 10th goal of the season, 6:16 into play. Blake Comeau matched that with his first of two goals with just over four minutes to play in the session.
2. The Isles took control of the game in the middle period as Matt Moulson and Comeau both scored. It was the 22nd goal of the season for Moulson, tops on the team. No Islander scored 20 goals last season; Moulson's 22 is one shy of Bill Guerin's team-leading 23 in the 2007-08 season. It was the first time in his career that Comeau has scored twice in a game. Prior to today, he had scored 22 goals...in 22 different games.
3. The Isles had a chance to take a stranglehold on the game early in the third with a 5-on-3 power play, but when the Sens killed it off, they grabbed all of the momentum, leading to goals by Alex Kovalec (411th career), Jason Spezza (on the power play) and Mike Fisher.
Fisher's goal, the second Senator tally in 93 seconds turned out to be the winner, which is not surprising. Fisher has scored seven career goals against the Islanders; five have been game winning goals. The Isles pressed for the deadlock in the final 9:14 but couldn't beat Brian Elliott.
...a few more...
4. It's only the second time all season that the Islanders lost a game in regulation that they led after two periods (20-2-4). It's also only the second time that the Sens have won, when trailing after forty minutes (2-21-1). Ottawa
's comeback deprived the Isles of a chance for a .500 February. They finish the month with a record of 2-4-0.
5. The power play continues to be a sore point. The Isles failed on all five power plays, including a 54 second 5-on-3 to start the third period. The Isles are 0-12 in the last three games, and are 2-41 since Rob Schremp scored in the first period against Washington
on January 26. The Isles' power play is 35-237 on the season; their 14.8 percent is last in the NHL
6. Matt Martin had a strong game, leading the Isles with eight hits and adding six shots on goal (only Tavares, who matched his career-high with seven, had more). He now has 14 hits in his first four games.
7. Alex Kovalev had points on all three Senator goals in the third period, and is now 12 points shy of 1,000 for his career. He has 28 goals and 46 assists in 79 career goals against the Islanders.
8. The Isles have played their opponents even for two periods this season (outscored 114-113) but they have been outscored 72-34 in the third period. The 34 goals are five fewer than any other team has scored in any period (Phoenix
has 39 in the first period), while only Carolina
(75) and Anaheim
(74) have allowed more third period goals.
9. Dwayne Roloson, playing his first Coliseum game since being pulled after one period on January 26, made 31 saves in his 500th NHL game. He has now lost five straight starts and six out of his last seven. Brian Elliott had 34 saves for the Sens as he defeated the Isles for the second time in as many career starts.
10. The Sens lead the season series three games to none and six points to two. The final meeting will be on April 3rd at the Coliseum.
Up next: The Olympic break. Scott Gordon and Mark Streit head to Vancouver
with Gordon as an assistant on Team USA and Streit as captain of the Swiss team. When the season resumes on March 2, the Isles will entertain Chicago
The Isles have dominated the Blackhawks in recent seasons, winning five straight games by a combined 25-9. Last season's win in Chicago was Peter Mannino's first (and to this point only) NHL win; Mannino is having a stellar season with Chicago in the IHL this season—he's 17-3-0.
This will be the Hawks' first visit to Long Island since Halloween, 2006. Perhaps the Blackhawk visit will be the cure for the Islander power play. The Isles last scored three power play goals on March 15, 2009 in Chicago (74 games ago) and have not scored three power play goals at the Coliseum since that Halloween visit by the Hawks- a span of 146 home 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