WINNING! ISLANDERS 4 MINNESOTA 1Five-game homestand gets off to impressive start

9:35 pm: Let’s begin with a personal request. In the Comments thread, please share your thoughts on the hockey game and the hockey team. Comments about the Comments – “whiners,” “Kool-aid,” etc. – continue to be stale and unwelcomed. This is sports, my friends. A team wins, people are happy. They lose, it can be rough – especially when it’s been four seasons straight. Blake Comeau has a good game, Blake has a bad one…you get the point. This is what following sports is all about. So please, be considerate. You Are All Islanders Fans. This alone is enough for medals of honor.

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The Islanders started off their five-game homestand in fine fashion, whipping the Wild tonight, 4-1, before a crowd of some of the most loyal hockey fans on the planet at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It wasn’t even close.

Blake Comeau scored two goals, his first off a terrific passing play from Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey. Nielsen had three assists. John Tavares came about as close to scoring a hat trick without actually scoring a goal, but that’s fine when you’re team wins big. Al Montoya was solid, making a sharp glove save on Brent Burns in the third period. The Islanders out-shot Minnesota, 41-34.

The Islanders are now 20-21-6 under Jack Capuano, whom you can bet the ranch will be back as head coach next season.

For Eric Nystrom, the embarrassing performance by his team for the first two periods led to an unfriendly welcome home. For outstanding Minnesota beat writer Michael Russo, a Long Island native, I’m sure he loved being back in the old barn despite the no-contest. For the Islanders, this homestand provides an opportunity to move up in the league standings. The next three are against St. Louis, the Devils and Toronto.

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In his first game back after a nine-game suspension, Trevor Gillies retaliated a Cal Clutterbuck hit on Justin DiBenedetto with a hit from the side. Gillies, who unfortunately is playing for free these days (unless his teammates are covering his weeks of income lost), will almost definitely be suspended again. It’s one thing to be a repeat offender; you have to know Colin Campbell is ready to pounce on a player for a dangerous hit in his first game back. One more incident, and Trevor will be in danger of being Simon-ized.

Perhaps sensing they had lost their edge over the last week, the Islanders played tougher, stood up for each other and “made it look mean” again. It’s possible they also might have been motivated by the 66% dropoff in turnstile attendance from Saturday’s game. (According to Katie Strang, $20 tickets were available for all games in February, but not tonight). As the previous three games in the wake of Ferocious Friday proved, the gritty and nasty stuff sells.

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Meanwhile, in Portland, Nino Niederreiter is 7-6-13 in his last six games. Rumor has it that Niederreiter will be ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the upcoming Futire Watch issue of The Hockey News. Calvin de Haan is ranked No. 43.

See you tomorrow. I hope you understand my heartfelt Comments request, and thank you for reading Islanders Point Blank.