Islanders Dominant Third Sends Coyotes Home Howling

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Arizona Coyotes v New York Islanders

TONIGHT’S RECAP

The New York Islanders (39-20-2) faced off against the Arizona Coyotes (20-33-7) tonight for the second and final time this season. This time at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

There were some interesting story lines entering the game. Nothing compared to Nick Leddy signing a seven-year contract extension earlier in the day, but fans were also excited to see Frans Nielsen in the lineup after he hurt his ankle in the Isles’ previous game against Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. Chad Johnson started in goal for the Isles, his third start in a week, and it looks like Coach Jack Capuano is ready to increase his work load after three solid starts in a row.

Both teams were coming off bad shutout losses, but the Isles hoped to take advantage of the fact that the Coyotes loss came just last night against the New Jersey Devils , while the Isles were resting.

The game got off to a sluggish start with neither team establishing control in the first ten minutes of the game. The Islanders did pick things up a bit in the second half of the period, and eventually outshot the Coyotes by a nice margin, 12-6, and also out hit Arizona, 26-11, in the first period. John Tavares had the best scoring opportunity of the period for the Isles, a nice backhand after a Coyote turnover to the right of the Coyotes’ goalie, Mike Smith. The “Kid Line” was back together as Jack Capuano tried to generate some offense and Brock Nelson created one nice opportunity, but the game was scoreless after one period.

Yes, it’s the NHL, and all competition needs to be respected. But after twenty minutes it seemed as if the first place Islanders were playing down to the level of their competition. At this point in the season, it was a difficult performance to swallow, especially after the shutout loss to Vancouver. Islander fans were hoping for better results in the second period.

On the first shift of the second period, the Islanders and their fans got what they wanted. Coach Capuano opted to send the “Kid Line” out first. 37 seconds into the period, Brock Nelson fed a pass to a charging Travis Hamonic who skated deep into Arizona’s corner to try and create an odd man rush with Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. Lee and Strome charged the net. Two Coyote defenders took Strome. Hamonic fired a pass to an open Lee who was standing in front of the Coyotes’ net. Lee received the pass, shifted to his backhand and flipped a beautiful shot over Smith’s glove. The Coliseum erupted as the Islanders took a 1-0 lead.

It was the 20th goal on the year for the Islanders’ rookie, who didn’t even begin the season with the team.

The Islanders did continue to increase their aggressiveness after the goal, but it resulted mostly in turnovers in the neutral zone, not goals. The Islanders didn’t dictate the flow of the game, and continued to play down to the level of their competition, leaving the window open for Arizona to tie the game.

At 11:33 of the period, Brock Nelson took a vicious hit from Oliver-Ekman Larson that resulted in the first power play of the game for either team. The Isles did generate five shots during the power play, but it was Arizona that seemed more energized after the kill than the Isles.

After another turnover, the Islanders finally paid the price. John Tavares and Michael Grabner couldn’t connect on a pass in the offensive zone and out came the Coyotes with the puck on a 3 on 2 rush. Mark Arcobello converted to make the game 1-1 at 15:52.  The shot was partially screened, but it was placed beautifully over Chad Johnson’s blocker.

The second period would end with the Islanders outshooting the Coyotes 25-20 and leading in hits,42-24. But, the game was tied 1-1.

When the Isles came out in the third period, it looked like Coach Cappy wasn’t happy with the Grabner-Tavares turnover. The “Kid Line” was broken up, and the front line featured Strome,Tavares and Josh Bailey, who started the period together. Capuano was really shuffling things up. The three didn’t have a great first shift, and the team really needed a lift.

Two shifts later, the fourth line came out. It now featured Kael Mouillierat, Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Martin. Martin generated a turnover at center ice, then followed a rush created by Mouillierat, who tried getting a pass to Kulemin that hit him in the back. Kulemin turned and fed the puck to a charging Martin who was crossing the blue line. Martin picked up the pass, skated in, and fired a pass up and over Smith’s shoulder blade at 3:18 of the period to make it 2-1 Isles.

Arizona Coyotes v New York Islanders

After this goal, the Islanders didn’t hesitate. 57 seconds later, Ryan Strome and John Tavares did a nice give and go coming out of the Islanders end. Once Tavares crossed Arizona’s blue line, Johnny Boychuk charged up, and Tavares sent a pass across that he received as he skated between both circles. Boychuk snapped a high hard wrist shot off the inside post to the right of Smith, and the Islanders led 3-1.

The Coliseum crowd was electrified, and the Islanders kept up the pressure. Moments later, after some terrific forechecking by Colin Mcdonald, the puck came loose in front of Smith, Mouillierat wound up and blasted a high shot over Smith’s glove. The Isles upped their advantage to 4 to 1. At 27 years old, it was the first NHL goal of Mouillierat’s career.

The Islanders weren’t finished yet however. From the face off circle to the left of Arizona’s net, Brock Nelson fed a speeding Josh Bailey who was charging Smith, and looking to get off the shot. Bailey’s shot popped off Smith’s pads and Nelson, who followed the play, directed the puck in with his stick, while it was still in mid-air. That made it  5 to 1 Isles with 11 different Isles registering points. The four third period goals game within 5:52 of each other.

For the final ten minutes of the game, the Isles relented on the scoring, and fans were able to enjoy the remainder of Chad Johnson’s fourth consecutive strong performance. The backup goalie is coming into form during the Isles busiest, and most important time of the season. For that, he deserves much credit. Johnson saved 27 of 28 shots.

Arizona Coyotes v New York Islanders

After a disappointing first two periods, the Islanders win this one convincingly, and remain on top of the Metropolitan Division. The Isles will look to stay on the winning track when the Calgary Flames come to town on Thursday.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Lee (20) is now one behind Filip Forsberg (21) for the NHL lead in goals among rookies.
  • Chad Johnson had a save percentage over .900% for his 4th consecutive start. His first time as an Islander.
  • Travis Hamonic has 12 points in 15 games since the break
  • Johnny Boychuk now has three goals in his last six games
  • The Islanders are now 22-8-0 at the Nassau Coliseum

INSIGHT’S THREE STARS

  • Brock Nelson – Registered a goal and an assist, was also +2 on the night
  • Kael Mouillierat – Scored his first NHL goal tonight, added an assist and was +2
  • Chad Johnson – 4 consecutive strong performances and saved 27 of 28 to earn the W

STATISTICS

Isles V Coyotes

GAME VIDEO

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