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Coyotes begin eastern road trip against Islanders

by Jon Lane /

COYOTES (1-1-0) at ISLANDERS (1-0-1)


Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders last met on Jan. 7, 2012 in Phoenix when captain Shane Doan's hat trick led the Coyotes to a 5-1 win. Phoenix makes its first trip to Long Island since Dec. 18, 2010.

Big story: The Coyotes are in the midst of a daunting challenge to open the season with six of their first eight games on the road. Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum is the first of four straight away from home against Eastern Conference opponents.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix has started on both sides of 4-1 games with a season-opening win over the New York Rangers followed by Saturday's defeat to the San Jose Sharks during which the Coyotes allowed three goals in the first 13 minutes and were outshot 51-23.

"We didn't execute well and we got out-battled on loose pucks and when you don’t have the puck ever, you’re chasing the game," coach Dave Tippett said.

Islanders: The Islanders arrived to their home opener last Saturday with the momentum of a shootout win over the New Jersey Devils that kick-started a season filled with optimism after a return to the postseason for the first time since 2006-07. The Isles raced to a 2-0 lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets and were 20 minutes from their first 2-0 start since 2007. Then in a span of 4:19 it fell apart, as the Blue Jackets tied the game en route to a 3-2 shootout victory.

Coach Jack Capuano was disappointed with how the team has failed to respond in crunch time. Against the Devils, the Islanders squandered a 3-2 lead in the third, allowing New Jersey to force overtime.

"We got three out of four points, but we have to be doing whatever it takes,'' Capuano said. "Keep showing a willingness to compete. For the most part we did, but the guys have to learn that you have to play hard every shift."

Who's hot: Despite allowing three goals in the first 13 minutes to the Sharks on Saturday, goalie Mike Smith (1-1, 2.02 goals-against average, .946 save percentage) was perfect the rest of the way and finished with 47 saves. "He played unbelievable," Doan said. "It could have been a lot worse, and he played great." Smith has won all three of his starts against New York with a 1.00 GAA … Islanders captain John Tavares bounced back from a silent opening-night effort to set up both goals against the Blue Jackets. The Isles would not have collected a point Saturday if not for Evgeni Nabokov (1-0-1, 2.31 GAA, .914 save percentage). The veteran goalie made 27 saves, including a few game-savers in overtime, and takes a 4-2-1 record with a 2.21 GAA in his last seven games against Phoenix.

Injury report: Coyotes defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Derek Morris missed practice Monday with upper-body injuries and are listed as day-to-day, but both are expected to play Tuesday. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla (concussion) was given medical clearance to resume contact, but it remains unclear on when he'll be ready to return to action. … Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck (leg laceration)remains out, but could return as early as Friday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.


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