The final night before the Christmas break brought us 8 games a playin'. As 16 teams fought for those all important midseason points, Former Islanders were filling their stockings with good play. Let us take a look at the FI gifts from Sunday night:
* Petteri Nokelainen is starting to look like a good acquisition for the Boston Bruins and a sad loss for the Isles prospect system. Nokelainen scored his 4th of the season in a 4-2 loss to the host Pittsburgh Penguins. He now has 5 points (4 goals, 1 assists) on 24 games this year netting all of those goals in the last 12 games. Captain Zdeno Chara assisted on the opening goal of the game for a shortlived Bruins' lead. Chara has 5 goals and 16 assists for 21 points on 36 games.
* A lot of insult as of late has gone towards the Islanders' lack of offense. Much of that attitude could be directed toward the stunningly impotent Rangers' offense. With the least goals per game (2.31), the Rangers are barely keeping their heads above water. That lack of scoring bit them again as the Ottawa Senators downed the 3-1 at Madison Square Garden. Martin Straka continues to pack on the points since returning from an early season injury. Straka assisted on the lone team goal 3:42 into the 1st period. He now has 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) on 21 games. He currently holds a 4 game point scoring streak in which he has tallied 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. Since returning from injury, Straka has 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points on only 14 games.
* Chicago d-man Brent Sopel continues to show how helpful he can be. Sopel assisted on the 2nd Chicago goal as the Blackhawks edged the visiting Edmonton Oilers 3-2. He now has 10 assists on 32 games this season. Over the last 6 games, Sopel has notched 4 assists. Edmonton forward Robert Nilsson keeps adding to his numbers. He assisted on the first Oilers' goal of the night, a powerplay tally. Nilsson has 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points on 29 games. He snapped a 3 game point-less streak and has 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points in the last 15 games overall.
* Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo cannot win them all, despite his best efforts. Luongo stopped 29 of 32 shots but the Canucks' offense was not enough as they lost to the host Colorado Avalanche 3-1. Luongo dropped to 16-11-3 and entering the holiday has a .929 save percentage and a paltry 2.03 goals against average, both markedly improved from last year's stellar season. Canucks' forward Taylor Pyatt scored the lone team goal, a powerplay netter 6:57 into the middle frame. The goal was his 8th of the season. He now has 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) on 37 games. Six of those points (5 goals, 1 assists) have come with the man advantage. With the goal, Pyatt snapped a 5 game point-less streak and a 6 game goal-less streak.
Merry Christmas and check back soon for more Former Islander reporting here at FIW.