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Game Preview: Islanders at Coyotes

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
After writing a Hollywood ending Thursday night in Los Angeles, the New York Islanders look to roll the credits on their road trip and finish strong against the Arizona Coyotes tonight at 8 p.m.


The Islanders (8-5-0) are currently 2-2-0 on their five-game trip and have won two straight, sweeping the Southern California portion of the Western swing. Now situated in the Arizona desert, the Islanders are looking to ride off into the sunset with a third win and an overall winning record on the trip.

“If we can win Saturday, it’ll turn out to be a pretty good road trip,” Frans Nielsen said. “It looked pretty bad for a while there, but it’s good to see the guys step up after those first two games.”

The Islanders had lost three straight heading into SoCal, but instead of wilting against the NHL’s top team, the Anaheim Ducks, and the reigning Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings, they responded with methodical, tactical wins.

Prior to Wednesday night in Anaheim, the Islanders had only allowed fewer than three goals once. In Southern California, they only conceded three goals over two games.

"We went on a three-game skid and everybody wanted to hit the panic button," Kyle Okposo said. "Not in here, though. We're not the same team we've been."

The Western road trip concludes in the desert, but that doesn’t mean the competition dries up. The Coyotes have won four of their last five games at home and three straight. 

The Coyotes attack starts from the back end, as defenseman Keith Yandle leads team scoring with 11 points (one goal, 10 assists). Yandle has led the Coyotes in scoring in each of the past two seasons and currently is tied for fifth amongst NHL defensemen. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is another Coyotes defenseman with some offensive bite, notching eight points (two goals, six assists) this season. Yandle and Ekman-Larsson play on separate pairings, so the Islanders need to watch the Coyotes active blue line at all times.

Up front, captain Shane Doan is still producing at age 38, posting nine points (four goals, five assists) in 13 games. Newcomer Sam Gagner is finding his offensive form with goals in two of his last three while Antoine Vermette has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games.

Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. eastern time

New York Islanders
8-5-0 (16 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, T-6th in Eastern Conference)
5-3-0 road
Arizona Coyotes
6-6-1 (13 points - 6th in Pacific Division, T-11th in Western Conference)
4-2-0 home
8:00 p.m.
Gila River Arena
Glendale, AZ

Television:
MSG PLUS
Play-by-play: Jiggs McDonald
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- Islanders 2, Kings 1 (SO) (Nov. 6)
- Game Highlights (Nov. 6)
- The Skinny (Nov. 6)
- MSG Post-Game Reaction (Nov. 6)
Islanders player to watch
Lubomir Visnovsky - Defenseman

Lubomir Visnovsky’s impact on the Islanders goes well beyond his stat line (1G, 2A) this season. The 38-year-old defenseman is a leader on the Islanders blue line and is a mentor to the young core. Visnovsky quarterbacks the Islanders top power-play unit and had two grade-A scoring chances in LA, hitting the crossbar in the third period and getting robbed in OT. 
Coyotes player to watch
Keith Yandle - Defenseman

Keith Yandle leads the Coyotes with 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in 13 game this season. The 28-year-old defenseman is offensively inclined and has led the Coyotes in scoring in each of the past two seasons, but scored a career high 59 points (11G, 48A) in 2010-11. Yandle has three assists in his last five games and leads all defensemen with 48 shots this season. 

New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
86 Nikolay Kulemin 91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski 51 Frans Nielsen15 Cal Clutterbuck
27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson 18 Ryan Strome
36 Eric Boulton 53 Casey Cizikas 17 Matt Martin

Defensemen

44 Calvin de Haan 3 Travis Hamonic
2 Nick Leddy
55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey
11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
Arizona Coyotes previous game lines
Forwards
Tobias Rieder - 50 Antoine Vermette - 19 Shane Doan
36 Rob Klinkhammer - 11 Martin Hanzal - 10 Martin Erat
28 Lauri Korpikoski - 9 Sam Gagner - 89 Mikkel Boedker
22 Brandon McMillan - 14 Joe Vitale - 44 B.J. Crombeen

Defensemen
23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson - 4 Zbynek Michalek
3 Keith Yandle - 5 Connor Murphy
Brandon Gormley - 26 Michael Stone

Goaltenders
41 Mike Smith
40 Devan Dubnyk


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