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Coyotes' Domingue gets first shutout vs. Islanders

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes had allowed 37 goals in their past eight games. Their No. 1 goalie is out at least two months, and their coach called out his captain, among others, after allowing seven goals Thursday.

Two nights later, the Coyotes rebooted and responded with arguably their best defensive game of the season.

In his fifth NHL start, goalie Louis Domingue made 25 saves for his first shutout and the Coyotes made Oliver Ekman-Larsson's first-period goal stand up for a 1-0 win against the New York Islanders at Gila River Arena on Saturday.

"We can defend," said Arizona coach Dave Tippett, who called the effort in a 7-5 loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday 'disgusting.' "This was exactly what we talked about the other night: We need better goaltending, we need to play better in front of the goaltender and we need to execute better.

"I think you saw major improvements in all those areas tonight and when you do that, you give yourself a chance to win."

Tippett pointed to the strong leadership of captain Shane Doan, Ekman-Larsson, who also struggled against Columbus, and Martin Hanzal, who returned after missing four games because of an injury, as keys to making sure the Coyotes were ready to rebound.

"We had a 1-0 mentality and it was the first time it worked, actually," Hanzal said. "We stuck to our plan. We kept the puck deep, we didn't have too many turnovers and that was huge for us. We played in their zone a lot."

And when the puck came the other way, Domingue was ready. Arizona's fifth-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Domingue was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League on Dec. 11, when Mike Smith had abdominal surgery. He was given the start Saturday after Anders Lindback came down with the flu and responded with a game the Coyotes desperately needed.

His biggest save came 2:32 into the second period, when he denied Islanders center Casey Cizikas on a shorthanded breakaway that would have tied the game.

"That was the key point of the game," Tippett said. "The whole bench was alive."

Domingue made nice saves on Thomas Hickey and Anders Lee a few minutes later and his teammates limited the Islanders (18-11-5) to seven shots in the final period.

He also survived the first shot of the game, when Islanders center Frans Nielsen hit the post.

"Every time you are in a 1-0 game every save matters, whether it's a breakaway or a shot from the wall," Domingue said. "That was a team effort right there. We had a strong game in the offensive zone and in our zone when we didn't have the puck.

"I've been here before. I knew what to expect and I was ready to go. Lucky they hit the post on the first shot."

The Coyotes are (15-15-2) are 8-5-1 in 14 home games; they won 11 games at Gila River Arena all of last season (11-25-5).

When asked if Domingue would start the next game (Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs), Tippett smiled.

"Right now we are in the position where, 'you win, you're in,'" Tippett said. "He won, so he's in."

Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for the Islanders (18-11-5), who have lost three in a row. They have scored a total of two goals in the past 10 periods, both by forward Brock Nelson. Getting shut out for the first time this season added to the frustration.

"Lately goals have been tough to come by. We are trying to stay positive," said Islanders captain John Tavares, who has one point (a goal) in his past eight games. "We got our scoring chances; we just have to find a way to create more. I thought we competed hard."

The Coyotes, who allowed at least five goals in six of their past eight games, held the Islanders to eight harmless shots in the first period and scored the game's only goal.

Cycling the puck in the left corner, Anthony Duclair found Ekman-Larsson at the top of the circle with a backhand pass that had the puck on-edge. Ekman-Larsson one-timed the puck past Halak for his seventh goal.

It was the 20th career game-winning goal for Ekman-Larsson, who passed Teppo Numminen for the franchise lead among defensemen in that category.

"We did enough. We had some chances. You're not going to win if you don't score," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Even on the goal they scored (defenseman) Johnny (Boychuk) was right there on Ekman-Larsson. It was a rolling puck, shot from the outside."

Doan played in his 1,416th game on Saturday, passing Al MacInnis for 30th place on the NHL's all-time list.

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