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Islanders will be without Okposo against Coyotes

by Jerry Brown

ISLANDERS (18-10-5) at COYOTES (14-15-2)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Arizona Coyotes will have two-thirds of its top line back in the lineup when they host against the New York Islanders at Gila River Arena on Saturday.

Center Martin Hanzal, who has missed the past four games with various lower-body injuries, will return as will Anthony Duclair, who missed the 7-5 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Along with linemate Max Domi, the trio has combined for 25 goals and 63 points this season. Hanzal's absence touches all areas of the game for the Coyotes, from power play to penalty kill to faceoffs.

Hanzal has a history of missing games due to injury, and he's missed six of the first 31 games again this season.

"We're a better team with Marty in there. That goes without saying," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "He plays the game hard and injures are a part of it. The issues he's had in the past (back surgery in the summer) haven't been a problem but he's had smaller things that have kept him out."

Goalie Anders Lindback has been bothered by the flu and didn't practice Friday. He will dress Saturday and backup Louis Domingue, who will make his first start of the year.

"We're going with the healthy guy," Tippett said.

Each goalie struggled against Columbus. Lindback allowed goals on the first two shots he saw and was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Domingue came on and allowed two goals on the first four shots before settling down in the third period.

With Mike Smith out 8-10 weeks following abdominal surgery, the Coyotes, goaltending has been a problem. The Coyotes have allowed at least five goals in six of the past eight games and 35 over that 1-6-1 span.

"Losing your No. 1 goalie gives your team an opportunity to overcome something," Tippett said. "But to do that, you have to defend well enough to give the other goalies an opportunity to be as good as they can be. We are in that situation now and we have what it takes to do it."

The Islanders will be without their leading scorer, Kyle Okposo, who will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.

Anders Lee will skate on the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey, and Steve Bernier draws into lineup for Okposo, who has 26 point for the Islanders.

Taveras, who has one point in his past seven games, had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win against the Coyotes on Nov. 16.

Goalie Jaroslav Halak will get the start for New York.

Here are the projected lineups:


Anders Lee - John TavaresJosh Bailey

Brock Nelson - Frans Nielsen - Ryan Strome

Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Steve Bernier

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Jean-Francois Berube (lower body), Kyle Okposo

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Brian Strait


Max DomiMartin HanzalAnthony Duclair

Tobias Rieder - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker

Jordan Martinook - Brad RichardsonShane Doan

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd GordonSteve Downie

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck - Stefan Elliott

Nicklas Grossmann - Connor Murphy

Louis Domingue

Anders Lindback

Injured: Zbynek Michalek (lower body), Mike Smith (abdominal surgery), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital bone),

Scratched: John Scott, Viktor Tikhonov

Status report: Michalek will miss this third straight game with a lower-body injury. … Scott, a healthy scratch Saturday, cleared waivers in an attempt to give Arizona roster flexibility.

Who's hot: Rieder is coming off the second two-goal game of his career and has scored 10 of his past 13 goals on home ice. … Vermette needs two goals for 200 in his career. ... The Islanders are looking for their fourth straight win over Arizona and the second straight season sweep. … Nelson has both Islandera goals in the past two games and points in four of the past five games.

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