UNIONDALE, N.Y. (Oct. 8, 2013) – In most cases, the team that commands play would come out on top. On Tuesday night, the New York Islanders had five different players light the lamp in a 6-1 romp of the Phoenix Coyotes at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. John Tavares led up the offensive charge for the Isles with his first two goals of the 2013-14 campaign.
New York (2-0-1) struck first in the contest, and it only took 1:49 to do it. Brock Nelson forced a Zbynek Michalek turnover in neutral ice, and played the puck off the glass to Peter Regin. Regin then skated in on Mike Smith, and fired a shot from the left circle to the top shelf, giving the hosts an early 1-0 lead.
“We did a good job (tonight) as a whole unit,” stated Nelson. “It (the goal) kind of fired us up.”
The Islanders would add one more goal before the end of the first period, thanks in part to a two-man advantage. After David Schlemko and Antoine Vermette went off a second apart for high sticking, and delay of game, respectively, Tavares made the Coyotes pay for their costly mistake, scoring on a one-timer, off a tic-tac-toe set-up by Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo.
In the second stanza, it was more dominant play from the boys in blue and orange. With 8:13 to go, New York got its second man-advantage goal of the evening to make it a 3-0 contest. Matt Donovan ripped a slapper from the left point that squeaked through the pads of Smith, and over the goal line.
“It feels great to get the first one,” Donovan said. “I took a shot from the blue line on the power play, and it trickled in.” He later added: “We need to continue to work hard, and win each game.”
Less than a minute later, however, Phoenix got on the board, cutting the deficit to two (3-1). A trailing Martin Hanzal snapped a shot by Evgeni Nabokov, who totaled 33 saves, on the play. Mikkel Boedker was credited with the assist, after feeding Hanzal with a pass from behind the net.
Though they blew a two-goal lead in the home opener versus Columbus, the Isles were not allowing this one to get away. New York responded with two unanswered goals over the final 5:11 to bring a commanding 5-1 cushion into the intermission. Tavares accounted for one of them, while Colin McDonald put one in the short side for the other.
That proved to be all the Islanders needed, as Smith was benched for the third period. He finished the contest with 15 stops.
“I thought they (Phoenix) did a good job of getting to the net,” Nabokov stated. “They hit a couple of posts, but we were able to keep the puck out.”
“We got some timely goals tonight,” Capuano said during his post-game press conference. “The score wasn’t an indication of how the game went…Our guys played hard.”
Could this be a year to remember for the Islanders? Well, another test awaits them Friday (Oct. 11), when they travel to the Windy City to square off with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The puck drops from the United Center at 8 p.m.