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Recap: Isles Tie Club Record With 2-0 Shutout Vs Coyotes

Robin Lehner made 31 saves as Isles match franchise-best with 10th shutout of season

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

The New York Islanders matched a club record with their 10th shutout of the season on Sunday, blanking the Arizona Coyotes 2-0 at NYCB Live. 

Robin Lehner made 31 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, while Jordan Eberle's first period goal held up as the game-winner. Brock Nelson added the insurance marker with 3:15 to play, as the Isles picked up their second-straight win.

"[We're] getting back to having fun and not thinking too much, but playing our game," Lehner said. "It's been fun all year when we play our game. Even if it's low-scoring games sometimes, winning is fun. We just have to get back to accepting our positions and our jobs and try to just win games."

With the win the Islanders (95 points) moves within one point of the Washington Capitals (96 points) for the Metropolitan Division lead - and lowered their magic number to six. 


Video: ARI@NYI: Lehner preserves lead with flurry of saves

LEHNER RECORDS FIFTH SHUTOUT: 

Robin Lehner was the Islanders backbone on Sunday. The Isles goalie, making his second start in as many days, turned aside all 31 shots for his fifth clean sheet of the year - continuing to add to his career-high. 

He was good when he needed to be, protecting the Islanders 1-0 lead from the 4:37 mark onward, after Eberle chipped in a Nick Leddy rebound for the eventual winner. 

"When we're playing our game, we have confidence in being up by one goal," Lehner said. "We play hard, wait for them to make mistakes and capitalize on it." 

Video: ARI@NYI: Eberle buries rebound to open scoring

Perhaps Lehner's best saves came in the third period, stopping a Michael Grabner shorthanded breakaway, as well as Brad Richardson's rebound try. He had a little help, as Nelson blocked Richardson's second rebound, while Johnny Boychuk laid out to break up an open look inside the final minute. 

Lehner and Thomas Greiss each have five shutouts now on the season, which ties the most single-season shutouts in Isles history (Resch - 7, Smith - 3 in 1975-76). It's a testament to both goalie's seasons, as well as the Islanders all-together, defensive identity. 

"They are the reason we're in the position we are," Eberle said. "They have made some big saves. If you look at the way we play, we've done a good job of helping them out. I'm not taking anything away from them, but the defensive style that we've played we've done a good job of preventing the A chances and odd-man rushes. They've done the rest."

With the win, Lehner improved to 22-12-5 this season with a 2.17 GAA and a .928 SV%. The Islanders goalie is one win shy of matching his career-high (23), set in 2016-17 with Buffalo. 


FRITZ PROVIDING ENERGY FOR ISLES: 

Tanner Fritz got a big reaction from the Coliseum crowd on Sunday afternoon. 

It wasn't for a goal, an assist or even a big hit, but rather his individual effort during the Islanders lone penalty kill in the third period. 

Fritz chewed up about 20 seconds of clock, working the puck out of the Islanders end, chipping it into the Coyotes zone, regaining - and keeping - possession dishing it back before going for a change. 

The effort was not unnoticed by the crowd, his teammates or coach, who have all appreciated Fritz' tenacity since his recall on Wednesday.
 
"The crowd went nuts and you feed off that," Boychuk said of Fritz's PK. "He works hard. For guys that start in the minors and get their chance later on, it seems like they work really hard. It's fun to watch, especially when he's going really well, moving his feet and doing the right things." 

Fritz has brought energy in all three games since replacing Valtteri Filppula. The 27-year-old also had a few offensive looks on Sunday, getting robbed by Darcy Kuemper on a two-on-one rush with Anthony Beauvillier. 

"He's playing confident and doing a good job on the penalty kill," Trotz said. "He's playing with a lot of that confidence and energy that you look for when people go down… It's a great opportunity for him, it really is."


Video: ARI@NYI: Martin lays out Hinostroza along the boards

MAGIC NUMBER DOWN TO 6: 

With the win, the Islanders magic number drops down to six. That's the amount of points they need to earn, or the ninth-place team in the East needs to lose, to qualify for the postseason. 

The Islanders magic number can drop as low as four if the Columbus Blue Jackets lose in regulation to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night. 


Video: ARI@NYI: Nelson tucks it in to double the lead

NELSON RECORDS 50TH POINT: 

Brock Nelson hit the 50-point mark for the first time in his career on Sunday, potting the Islanders insurance goal. The Isles center banked a wraparound attempt off Kuemper's skate and in with 3:14 to play in the third period. 

Nelson is now riding a two-game scoring streak. He is two goals shy of matching his career-high (26) set during the 2015-16 season. 


NEXT GAME: 

The Islanders head back out on the road for a two-game trip starting on Tuesday in Columbus. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. 

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