Photo Credit: Norm Hall
THURSDAY'S LINE UP
(LW) Ladislav Nagy - (C) Steven Reinprecht - (RW) Shane Doan
(LW) Mike Comrie - (C) Joel Perrault - (RW) Owen Nolan
(LW) Patrick Fischer - (C) Jeremy Roenick - (RW) Dave Scatchard
(LW) Oleg Saprykin - (C) Mike Zigomanis - (RW) Georges Laraque
Derek Morris - Ed Jovanovski
Keith Ballard - Nick Boynton
Zbynek Michalek - Dennis Seidenberg
(Bold indicates starting line-up)
On Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes recorded an impressive 6-3 opening night win over the New York Islanders.
Off the opening face-off the Coyotes rushed into the Islanders zone, shortly after they would get their first shot on goal, but New York netminder Rick DiPietro was able to make the stop and keep Phoenix from taking an early lead.
Following the Coyotes first scoring chance of the game, the Islanders made their first established attack in the Coyotes zone. New York would wind up scoring on their first shot of the game at 1:45 of the period when forward Miroslav Satan fired a wrist shot that went over the shoulder of Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph.
The Coyotes would get a chance to even the score at 17:39 of the first when the Islander's Shawn Bates was called for interference. The Phoenix power play would get another boost when New York's Tom Poti was sent to the box for tripping. Poti's penalty came with 37-seconds remaining on Bates' penalty, giving the Coyotes a two-man advantage. The Islanders would kill of the Bates penalty without consequence, but they wouldn't be as lucky with Poti's penalty.
Still working with the man-advantage, the Coyotes set up in the offensive zone and displayed good puck movement until Ladislav Nagy sent a sharp pass to the front of the net, where it went off the skate of New York's Sean Hill and into the goal to tie the game at 1-1. Steven Reinprecht and Keith Ballard both recorded their first assists of the season on Nagy's goal at 5:25 of the first period.
Dave Scatchard nearly gave Phoenix their first lead of the night with just over 12-minutes to play in the period, when he broke free for a breakaway, but was stopped by DiPietro when he tried to fire the puck low to the strong side.
Phoenix would keep the pressure on and would be rewarded at 9:35 of the opening frame when Shane Doan duped a pass off to defenseman Derek Morris, deep in the Islanders zone, allowing Morris to skate in and fir a wrist shot past DiPietro, giving the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
New York would continue to flirt with disaster during the period with a pair of trips to the penalty box. The Coyotes refused to let up on the Islanders as they dominated the play inside the offensive zone. When New York was lucky enough to get the puck out of the zone, Phoenix quickly chased it down and brought the puck and pressure back into the Islanders end.
While the Coyotes wouldn't be able to convert on the late power plays, they did establish 15 first period shots; compared to New York's four and they skated off the ice after 20-minutes of play holding a 2-1 lead.
Just 29-seconds into the second period, the Coyotes nearly took a two-goal lead when DiPietro had to make a diving stick save on a backhand shot by Keith Ballard form the left face-off circle.
Phoenix wouldn't have to wait long for their first power play of the period as Islanders captain Alexei Yashin was called for hooking at 48-seconds of the period. The Coyotes would register a pair of shots on goal, but would be unable to add to their lead as the Islanders killed off the penalty to Yashin and returned to full strength.
The Coyotes would take just their second penalty of the contest at 4:35 of the stanza when rookie Patrick Fischer was sent to the box for holding. The Coyotes penalty kill, which has been strong throughout the pre-season, continued to be just that as they completely quieted the Islanders offense and returned to five-on-five hockey.
At 7:34 of the second, the Coyotes would extend their lead to 3-1 when Ladisav Nagy registered his second tally of the night. On the play, Nagy took the puck from the right face-off circle, made his way to the New York net and ricocheted the puck off the skate of Islander's defenseman Brendan Witt and into the net.
Less than two-minutes later, at 9:02 of the second, the Coyotes extended their lead when Steven Reinprecht fed the puck to Shane Doan in front of the Islanders net, allowing Doan to slide the puck past the glove of DiPietro for a 5-1 lead.
Just 51-seconds later, the Coyotes made it a 4-1 game when Mike Comrie's lead pass sent Joel Perrault on a breakaway where the Coyotes forward used a quick fake and then slid the puck through the leg legs of DiPietro.
New York continued to struggle to play at even strength as Brendan Witt (cross-checking) and Alexei Zhitnik (holding-the-stick) took penalties eight seconds apart with 9:14 to play in the period.
Using the two-man advantage the Coyotes built a 6-1 lead at 12:11 of the second when Ed Jovanovski's wrist shot from the point was deflected in front by Steven Reinprecht and into the net. The goal was Reinprecht's first of the season and fifth point of the night.
After two late penalties to Keith Ballard (hooking) and Dennis Seidenberg (high-sticking) Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro was called for delay-of-game when he flopped to the ice when Reinprecht tried to skate behind the net with 42-seconds of play remaining.
The final seconds of the period would roll off the clock and the teams headed to the locker room after two periods of play with Phoenix holding a 6-1 lead.
To begin the final period, the Islanders sent netminder Mike Dunham between the pipes and called DiPietro to the bench.
The Islanders would cut the Phoenix lead to four goals at 16:56 of the third when Viktor Kozlov grabbed a round from a save by Joseph at the right side of the net and flipped it into the Coyotes goal, making it a 6-2 contest.
With 14:31 to play in the period, the Coyotes power play was called back out ot the ice when New York's Sean Hill was called for interference. Phoenix worked the puck around the offenive zone on the ensuing power play and appeared to have a good scoring opportunity late in the man-advantage when Owen Nolan readied to fire a one-timer, but his stick broke on the shot. As a result the puck just sailed into Dunham where it was covered and the penalty expired.
At 12:29, Phoenix forward Georges Laraque was assessed a minor penalty for holding, resulting in the Islanders fourth power play opportunity of the night. Just as they had all night, the Coyotes penalty killers quelled the New York attack and returned to full strength.
With less than eight-minutes to play in the third, Keith Ballard was sent to the box for slashing. Despite their earlier success, the Coyotes wouldn't be able to keep the Islanders off the scoreboard on this man-advantage as Viktor Kozlov's shot from the left face-off circle beat Joseph and cut the Phoenix lead to 6-3.
The Coyotes would keep the Islanders off the scoreboard for the remainder of the third period despite taking a pair of penalties over the course of the final 2:07 of the game to record a 6-3 win on opening night.