GLENDALE, Ariz. - Two nights after calling his team's performance "disgusting," Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett stood in front of reporters in a cheerful mood.
"We can defend," Tippett said, smiling.
Louis Domingue stopped 25 shots for his first NHL shutout, Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored and the Coyotes bounced back from their worst defensive effort of the season to beat the slumping New York Islanders 1-0 on Saturday night.
In their first game since Thursday's ugly 7-5 loss to Columbus, the Coyotes stymied the Islanders despite entering the night allowing a league-worst 4.6 goals per game in December.
"We needed better goaltending, we needed to play better in front of the goaltender and we needed to execute better," Tippett said. "I think you saw major improvements."
It came against a team that has taken a quick turn themselves. The Islanders have managed two goals in a three-game skid that followed a 10-game winning streak.
"I think we've got to look ourselves in the mirror," winger Ryan Strome said. "I don't think we were playing our best hockey when we were winning."
Ekman-Larsson's one-timer late in the first period held up as Domingue was sharp. He replaced Anders Lindback, who was out with an illness.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 28 shots for the Islanders, who played the first of two scheduled games without points leader Kyle Okposo. He was resting a nagging lower-body injury.
That moved Steve Bernier into the lineup, while Anders Lee replaced Okposo on New York's top line. It didn't jump-start an impotent offence.
Brock Nelson has been the only player to score in the Islanders' longest regulation losing streak of the season.
"We've got to find a way to score goals," Strome said. "These guys had struggled defensively the past couple games and we couldn't crack them."
Lee, who went without a goal for the 13th straight game, lost John Tavares' pass in the defensive zone late in the first period. It led to Ekman-Larsson's seventh goal off Anthony Duclair's backhand feed at 17:59.
The Islanders, after failing to get a shot off on a first-period power play, started to pepper Domingue with shots to no avail.
Domingue's biggest stop was a pad save on Casey Cizikas's short-handed breakaway following Michael Stone's turnover early in the second.
Tippett called it the decisive moment.
"Our whole bench was like, alive," Tippett said.
The Coyotes also killed off a power play midway through the final period.
"That power play again, same thing we had the other night in Colorado," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We didn't generate anything."
New York's night of frustration was summed up midway through the second period when Matt Martin fanned on a shot. He then raced to try to level a hit, but Ekman-Larsson twirled away from the brunt of it and Martin crashed into the boards.
Connor Murphy levelled a big hit early that gave the sense the Coyotes were fired up after allowing the most goals at home in five years. They were quick to start skirmishes in front of Domingue in their second win in nine games.
With the injured Mike Smith sidelined two months and the struggling Lindback missing practice Friday, Domingue got his first start for Arizona since April.
The 23-year-old produced the Coyotes' first shutout since a 4-0 victory at Anaheim on Oct. 14.
"This game was a real confidence-booster," Domingue said. "Every time you play and you do good, you just feel like you belong in the league."
NOTES: By sitting Saturday and Monday against Anaheim, Okposo will get nine days' rest before the Islanders host Toronto on Dec. 27. ... Arizona C Martin Hanzal (lower-body) returned after missing four games. ... Coyotes D Zbynek Michalek (lower-body) missed his third straight game. ... Ekman-Larsson took two penalties. ... Coyotes captain Shane Doan moved into 29th place on the NHL career list with 1,417 games played.