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Coyotes pay rare visit to Long Island

by John Kreiser /

COYOTES (14-9-7) at ISLANDERS (6-18-5)

TV -- FS-Arizona (HD); MSG PLUS (HD)

Last 10 -- Phoenix 4-4-2; New York 2-6-2

Season series -- It's the only meeting of the season between interconference opponents who don't see each other very often. The Isles won last season's only game, blowing a 4-1 lead before winning 5-4 in a shootout at Arena. This is only the third trip to the Nassau Coliseum since October 2002 -- the Islanders won 3-2 in December 2007 and again in March 2009.

Big story -- The Coyotes try to avoid going 0-for-the New York area as they visit Long Island after a 3-0 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday and a 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers on Thursday. The Islanders will be trying to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-October after holding off Anaheim 3-2 on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Coyotes -- The loss to the Rangers was overshadowed by a player who never got off the bench. With Ilya Bryzgalov coming down with the flu in the afternoon, the Coyotes quickly signed Tom Fenton, a former college goaltender who hadn't played organized hockey since the end of the 2008-09 season.

Fenton's 15 minutes of fame are over -- the Coyotes recalled Rich Climie from AHL San Antonio to back up Jason LaBarbera if Bryzgalov is still too sick to dress.

Lost in the human interest story surrounding Fenton was the fact that the 'Yotes blew a pair of two-goal leads and saw a much-needed point disappear.

''If you look out West, it's a mess all the way down to 13th,'' defenseman Derek Morris said. ''Two points here, two points there, a point here, a point there, could cost you. We've got to get back on track.''

Islanders -- There were smiles at the Coliseum for a change Thursday night. The Isles scored three times in a 99-second span of the first period and held on to beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 for just their second win in 22 games.

But with the last playoff berth in the East still far out of sight, goaltender Rick DiPietro knows that a single win was hardly cause for celebration.

"It's good that we won, but we're not happy," said DiPietro, who stopped 30 shots. "When we win 10 in a row, then we'll be a bit happy."

Who's hot -- Bryzgalov has a 1.82 goals-against average in his last six appearances. … Matt Moulson, a surprising 30-goal scorer last season, leads the Isles with 11 this season and has two in his last three games.

Injury report -- Aside from Bryzgalov, the Coyotes are healthy. … The Islanders got a boost Thursday when defensemen Milan Jurcina (hamstring) and Radek Martinek (arm) returned from injuries. But they're still minus a half-dozen regulars -- and only defenseman Mark Eaton (groin) is on target to be back within the next week or so.

Stat pack -- Phoenix is 1-4-5 against the Eastern Conference; among the 15 teams in the West, the Coyotes are last in wins against the East and 14th in points. ... The three quick goals by the Islanders marked the first time they've scored three in a first period this season. The 3-0 lead marked the first time in exactly two months that New York led a game by three goals.

Puck drop -- Want proof that you don't have to score goals to make an impact? Consider the play of Isles defenseman Andrew McDonald on Thursday. He had no goals or assists, but made a major impact by blocking a game-high eight shots and being credited with five takeaways.

He was as responsible for the win as DiPietro or any of the scorers.

"I felt good," said MacDonald, who returned from a broken right hand Dec. 2, told Newsday. "I had good legs, was reading the play well, so it's nice to be back in full form."

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