The Islanders finished their Western road trip Thursday night, suffering a 6-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
Eric Boulton got the Islanders off to a 1-0 lead, but the Coyotes responded with four unanswered goals, including three in a 3:41 span in the second period. Mike Ribiero (1g/2a), Rob Klinkhammer (2g/1a) and Mikkel Boedker (2g) each scored during the second period blitz and led the Coyotes offensively. Keith Yandle rounded out the scoring with a goal and an assist.
“Tuesday (in San Jose) was such a big win and you wanted to carry over that momentum, but it didn’t happen,” Thomas Hickey said. “Safe to say, opportunity missed here at the end of the road trip.”
Trailing 4-1 in the second, the Islanders answered back with two quick strikes, as John Tavares and Kyle Okposo cut the deficit to one. Tavares scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season, as his attempted centering feed to Cal Clutterbuck deflected off Phoenix defenseman, Zybnek Michalek and past goaltender Mike Smith. Okposo’s goal – 1:23 later – came on a deflection off of a Brian Strait point shot, but 4-3 was as close as the Islanders came.
“To give up six goals like that and leave our goalie out to dry after making some big saves again is unacceptable,” Tavares said. “We’re not going to win too many hockey games if we’re getting back to habits like that.”
Kevin Poulin was solid early in net for the Islanders, stopping 16-of-17 shots in the first period, but as the game progressed, he became the victim of some hard luck. Both Yandle’s goal and Klinkhammer’s first tally tipped off Islanders’ sticks and beat Poulin, giving him little chance for a save. The Islanders goaltender finished the game with 30 saves, while Smith stopped 21 for the win.
Prior to Thursday’s game Strait and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov were both activated off injured reserve. Strait had two assists in his return while Nabokov backed up Poulin.
The loss concludes the Islanders tough Western swing. They return home to Nassau Coliseum and host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Notes: Casey Cizikas left the game with a jaw injury and did not return… Boulton’s goal was his second in his last three games… Tavares and Thomas Vanek are each riding three-game point streaks… The Islanders won 58% of their face-offs Thursday… Andrew MacDonald led the Islanders with 24:45 TOI… Ryan Strome was a healthy scratch Thursday, but is expected to make his debut on Saturday.