GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ When the New York Islanders need a goal, they turn to
their top rookie.
Trent Hunter scored twice and distracted goaltender Brian Boucher on New
York's first goal, helping the Islanders beat the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2 Friday
``I think it's just something you've got to realize,'' Hunter said. ``You
see two guys (injured forwards Mark Parrish and Alexei Yashin) go down, and
it's a great opportunity. You know, you want to step up and help the team. You
want to challenge yourself to be better.''
Janne Niinimaa broke a tie early in the third period, helping the Islanders
cap a four-game road swing with their first victory of the trip.
It was New York's first win on the road against the Coyotes since they were
the Winnipeg Jets. After a 4-2 win in Winnipeg on March 9, 1996, the Islanders
went 0-4-2 in Phoenix.
Rick DiPietro made 22 saves and got the only assist on Hunter's team-high
22nd goal into an empty net with 1:07 left.
Cliff Ronning had New York's only power-play goal, and Mariusz Czerkawski
The Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit, and coach Steve Stirling thought
the pivotal point in the game was his team's defense when the Coyotes had a
five-on-three power play for 1:27 late in the first period.
``The good news is we got out of there at 2, because it could have been
worse,'' Stirling said. ``If they get to 3, it's over, so the penalty-killers
found a way, and we regrouped at the end of the first.''
Jan Hrdina and Mike Sillinger scored 52 seconds apart in the first period
for the Coyotes.
But the Islanders, who took only seven shots in the first period, got even
in the second. Ronning, a former Coyote signed as a free agent on Jan. 9, got
the puck from Kenny Jonsson and beat Boucher with a slap shot from the top of
the left circle 4:56 in.
The goalie was screened by Hunter and defenseman Brad Ference, who were
jostling in front of the crease.
Hunter then scored from the right circle to tie it with 7:56 remaining.
``He just scores big goals at the right time, and that's all you can ask of
any player on the team,'' DiPietro said. ``But for him to be doing this as a
rookie is, you know, unbelievable.''
That set the stage for Niinimaa, who was credited with an unassisted goal
but benefited from the play of teammate Jason Blake and a mistake by Ference.
Blake swept behind the net, popping up on Boucher's right for a wraparound.
Boucher stopped that for one of his 24 saves, but left the rebound near the
Ference tried to clear it, but it only got as far as Niinimaa in the high
slot, and he beat Boucher 2:32 into the third period.
Czerkawski made it 4-2 at the 9:37 mark, taking the suspense out of the game
and forcing the Coyotes to pull Boucher late to set up Hunter's last goal.
``Guys care in here and guys want to win,'' said Boucher, who set a modern
NHL record with five consecutive shutouts earlier this season. ``We have better
effort, we have more emotion, but now it's like we've lost all momentum.''
The Coyotes, winless in their last eight (0-6-1-1), disappointed another
crowd in their new Glendale Arena, dropping to 2-7-2-2.
``We had a very solid first 20 minutes,'' coach Bob Francis said. ``Then
that first goal they scored you just sensed the tightness on the bench.''
The Islanders' previous six games in Phoenix were played in America West