All season long, the Islanders
have watched leads get away. Tonight, the shoe was on the other foot as the Isles twice rallied from third period deficits to force overtime, and went on to defeat the Canadiens
4-3 in a shoot-out at the Coliseum. On to the trick:
1. The Isles had the better of play in the first period, outshooting Montreal 15-5. Blake Comeau, who would later leave with an injury, scored the period's only goal. It was his 17th goal of the season (in only 61 games), tying him with Kyle Okposo for third place on the club's goal scoring list. He has scored 11 goals in his last 18 games and has earned a point in four straight games (5-2-7).
2. Montreal grabbed the lead in the second period on goals by Tomas Plekanec (his 25th) and Brian Gionta (his 26th). Gionta had 48 goals for New Jersey
in 2005-06; this is the only other time in his career that he has reached 26.
3. The Isles would tie the game twice in the third period, first with 2:01 gone by in the period, and again with 2:01 remaining. Sean Bergeheim knotted the game at 2, but Maxim LaPierre scored four minutes later. The Habs kept the lead until late in the third, but Frans Nielsen's goal forced overtime.
Montreal killed an overtime power play, before Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen connected in the shoot-out to give the Isles the win. Nielsen is now 11-19 (57.9 percent) in shootouts. No active player has scored as many as 11 shootout goals on as few attempts; among active players with at least ten attempts, only Slava Kozlov (58.7 percent) has been more successful.
...a few more...
4. It's the the third time this season that the Isles have rallied to win after trailing after 40 minutes (3-29-4). Despite the club's penchant for blowing leads, the Isles record when trailing after two periods nearly mirrors their 27-3-4 record when leading after two periods.
The Isles improved to 14-10 in games requiring overtime, including 8-6 in shoot-outs. The 14 wins and 24 games are club records, as are the 14 shoot-outs. The Isles are 6-1 in shoot-outs in 2010, losing only to St. Louis.
5. Jaroslav Halak has had a tremendous season for Montreal, and tonight was no different, and he made 39 saves, including six in overtime. Comeau's goal ended his second shutout streak of over 150 minutes this season. It's the first time in 30 games that the Isles have had at least 40 shots in a game.
6. Martin Biron made 28 saves for the Isles and improved to 7-0-2 in his last nine starts. He has won four straight starts, matching Roloson's season high (done twice). He improves to 2-1 in shootouts this season, and 8-14 in his career.
7. Sean Bergenheim continues his strong finish; he recorded a goal and two assists to match his career high of three points in a game. He has four goals and four assists in the last five games.
8. The Isles have won three straight games for the second time since the Olympic break and are 5-1-0 in the last six and 8-3-1 in their last 12. With the win, the Isles move within one game of NHL
.500 for the first time since a loss to Philadelphia
on January 30th dropped their record to 23-24-8.
The Isles will need to earn four points in their final three games to finish at NHL .500. With 78 points, they now have 17 points more than they recorded last year. The Isles are 6-1-0 in their last seven at home and 7-2-1 in ten games at home since the Olympic break.
9. The Isles improve to 23-14-3 at home. If they can win their season finale on Sunday, they will finish with 51 points at home. The Isles had 51 home points in 1985-86, the final season of Al Arbour's first stint as coach; they have exceeded that total only once since, earning 55 points in 2001-02.
10. Montreal wins the season series three games to one and seven points to three. The Canadiens dominated the special teams this season, going 6-15 on the power play and killing 17 of 19 Islander advantages. Montreal has earned points in 13 straight games against the Isles (10-0-3).
Up next: The Isles head to Pittsburgh
to participate in the final regular season game in Mellon Arena on Thursday. The Penguins lead the season series three games to one (and six points to three). The Isles have lost seven straight games in Pittsburgh, all in regulation, and are 2-12 in their last 14 visits to Pittsburgh.
The Isles are 0-5 in Pittsburgh under Scott Gordon, and have been outscored 25-8. They are 3-18-1 in divisional road games under Gordon (3-3-0 at Madison Square Garden, and 0-15-1 everywhere else).
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