Jack Capuano wanted more offense from his defensemen and despite playing without Nick Leddy on Friday night, the blueliners stepped up.
Johnny Boychuk scored the game-winner and Dennis Seidenberg scored his first goal of the season, as the Islanders' defensemen powered the offense in a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night at the Grant Thornton Ice Rink at Barclays Center.
"We've stressed this since day one," Capuano said of getting offense from his defense. "We have a formula that we think is a number our defensemen have to hit. If you look at points by defensemen in the last two years and look at the standings, it's pretty identical as to which teams make the playoffs."
On this night, they came through, as the defensemen played a key role in each of the Islanders' three goals.
Video: ARI@NYI: Boychuk rips SHG past Domingue for the lead
The winning goal was textbook Boychuk, as he wound up for a big shot from the point, beating Louie Domingue for his first of the season - and the first shorthanded goal of his career - at 4:24 of the third period. Boychuk also played a key role in Ryan Strome's second of the season, though in less-traditional Boychuk fashion, as he split the Coyotes' D on a rush and backhanded a shot on goal that Strome cleaned up to put the Islanders up 2-0.
"The element of surprise," Boychuk said of his shorthanded goal. "[Brock Nelson] wanted to win it back to me. He told me to set up for the shot, he won the faceoff clean, it was rolling and it took a 12-6 curveball and went in."
Video: ARI@NYI: Strome finishes rebound as parents look on
But before Boychuk left his imprint on the game, Seidenberg turned some heads with a beauty of his own, skating into the Coyotes' zone undetected and uncontested before snipping a shot top corner past Domingue at 4:45.
"We want our D to join and try to create offense and luckily it happened tonight," Seidenberg, who last scored on Feb. 14, said.
Video: ARI@NYI: Seidenberg beats Domingue over the blocker
That's music to Capuano's ears, who appreciated the contribution from a typically defensive-minded defenseman in Seidenberg, as well as solid work from Travis Hamonic.
"I see our guys - and this year with some new guys like Dennis - are buying in," Capuano said. "Guys that are real defensive-minded that like to play against top guys like Travis are buying in, they are getting up into the play more which is great to see."
Though it wasn't a perfect night for the Islanders blue line on Friday. With Leddy already sidelined with an upper-body injury, Ryan Pulock left the game after the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
With Pulock out early, the Islanders were down to five defensemen for the rest of the game, but that made their second-period domination - they outshot Arizona 16-4 - and gutcheck third even more impressive. Brad Richardson and Radim Vrbata scored a pair of goals for the Coyotes in a 13-second span in the first period, but that was all the offense the Coyotes could muster.
"It was just a good win for us, especially at home," Boychuk said. "We need to get as many home points as we can, while we have this home stretch."
RYAN STROME WINS THE BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS:
Ryan Strome faced off against his brother Dylan for the first time on Friday. With a goal and a win, Ryan, the older brother, claimed the first victory in their head-to-head matchup.
"You're watching to make sure your brother is doing alright, but you also don't want to get beat on a play," Strome said of the experience. "It's weird, but he's in the western conference so it's only twice a year, but I'm happy. I'd rather watch him when we're not playing."
Was there any brotherly chirping out on the ice?
"Not even a word," Strome said. "I'm older, but he's bigger than me, so we'll leave it at that."
NELSON EXTENDS STREAK:
With an assist on Johnny Boychuk's game-winner, Brock Nelson extended his point streak to five games (2G, 3A). Nelson is the team's leading scorer through five games.
The Islanders continue their homestand against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday evening. Puck drop is at 6 p.m.