UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Ted Nolan showed his displeasure after the New York Islanders' road-trip ending loss at Buffalo.
Less than 24 hours later, the players' coach let his stars know exactly what he wanted and needed from them. Islanders captain Bill Guerin scored a pair of rebound goals, and his linemates combined for three assists in New York's 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
The patient Nolan made it clear his patience had run out with his struggling club that had gone 1-5-1 - including 1-2-1 on the four-game trip that concluded Wednesday with a 5-3 loss to the Sabres.
Before the puck dropped against the Coyotes, Nolan spoke to top-line forward Mike Comrie and made it clear that what was being given wasn't good enough.
"We're human," said Comrie, who assisted on both of Guerin's goals. "We come to the rink and sometimes we think we're working hard but ... we got a great leader in Teddy and he gets the most out of us.
"Sometimes we have to realize that we're in here together and we don't want to let the next guy down. When you go through a funk, sometimes it's hard because you never think you're going to get out."
Guerin has only eight goals this season, but three have come in the past three games after he went 13 without one.
"Nobody likes to play poorly," he said. "I haven't had the best first 30 games. Sometimes you get frustrated, but we have to keep pushing along and whatever gets you going gets you going."
He knocked in a loose puck in the crease, after Comrie's shot slipped behind Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, with 7:03 left in the second period to snap a scoreless tie, and then gave New York a 3-1 lead with 8:20 remaining in the third.
"You're not disappointed in the people, sometimes you're disappointed in their actions," Nolan said. "The last number of games, we haven't been doing the simple things: driving to the net, getting some shots, making simple plays.
"If we're going to win some games, that's the way we have to win them. We have to get contributions from people, we have to play sound defensively, and we have one of the best goaltenders in the business."
Rick DiPietro made 34 saves in his 14th win of the season. He has started 24 of 25 games for New York. With 2.3 seconds left, he got fed up with the pushing and shoving in the crease, so he went behind the net and started throwing punches - earning a roughing penalty.
"We like Ricky's competitive spirit for sure, but we definitely don't need him getting into any kind of fisticuffs," Nolan said. "We need him to stop the puck and let the other guys do that work.
"We are definitely going to talk to him. We can't afford to miss Ricky too much."
The Islanders came in with a league-low 66 goals - two fewer than Phoenix - but found a way to beat their unfamiliar opponent. New York failed to score more than three goals for the 20th straight game, but that was enough to earn its first home win over the Coyotes in 10 years.
Marc-Andre Bergeron put the Islanders ahead 2-0 in the third, and Guerin answered defenceman Nick Boynton's short-handed goal to restore New York's two-goal lead with 8:20 remaining.
Due to the NHL's unbalanced schedule, Phoenix hadn't visited Long Island since Oct. 29, 2002. The Coyotes beat the Islanders 6-3 last season in the desert.
Phoenix, the lowest-scoring team in the Western Conference, avoided the shutout on Boynton's first goal of the season. The short-handed tally cut the Coyotes' deficit to 2-1 at 8:04. Niko Kapanen again brought them within a goal with 3:55 left when the Coyotes cashed in for the first time in five power plays.
Bryzgalov stopped 30 shots in his 12th straight start since being claimed off waivers from Anaheim by Phoenix last month. After starting with four consecutive wins for the Coyotes, Bryzgalov is 2-6. He had allowed only four goals in his previous three outings, winning twice.
"All in all, we played a pretty good hockey game," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "Probably the difference in the game was the power play. We didn't capitalize when we needed to."
Kapanen got to a loose puck after a shot struck teammate Martin Hanzal in front and knocked in the rebound to make it 3-2. The Coyotes had a chance to tie it when Bruno Gervais was sent off for slashing with 1:17 left, but New York held on.
"I think we put ourselves in a position where we had a lot of opportunities on power plays, and didn't capitalize on them," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "Getting that goal late was good for us - it was a nice goal by Kappy - but we needed to get that next one."