Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. – John Tavares scored two goals and rookie Matt Donovan scored his first career NHL goal as the Islanders defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 in the third game of the year.
The win was not as lopsided as the score would indicate, but the Islanders capitalized on scoring opportunities early in the game, and picked up their play in the second period.
“The score didn’t indicate the way the game was,” Islander head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “They have a good team… We found some sticks and we found a way to get in the back of the net. The power play was good. A key part of the game… Our guys played hard. You get rewarded for that and you do get bounces. The harder you work, the luckier you get and I thought our guys played hard.”
The Islanders took the 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. Peter Regin scored his first goal as an Islander at 1:29 into the game off a wrist shot that beat Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith high glove side.
Things would slow down after the goal. Neither team would make life too tough on the opposing goaltender but at the 13:36 mark the Islanders caught a break. Antoine Vermette took a hooking penalty and one second later Mike Ribeiro got called for delay of game.
On the ensuing five on three power play, John Tavares scored his first goal of the season off a feed from Frans Nielsen.
The Isles picked up the pace in the second period eventually catching another break midway through the period. Matt Donovan fired a shot from the point that looked to have been saved by Smith, but trickled through his pads and over the goal line. The goal was the first of Donovan’s NHL career.
“I was on the way back to the bench for a change and I hear everyone celebrating,” Donovan said while describing the goal. “Turned around and saw that it was in. That was pretty exciting.”
Martin Hanzel put the Coyotes on the board less than a minute after the Donovan goal to cut the Isles lead back to two.
Tavares put the Isles back in front by three at the 14:49 mark of the second period after burying a shot from inside the far side face-off circle. The Grabner-Nielsen-Colin McDonald line put on a passing display to set up McDonald for his first goal of the year to make it 5-1 Islanders.
In the third, the Islanders added one final goal to seal the win. Grabner found Bailey in front of the net, who quickly passed to Nielsen, who sent it right back to Bailey. Bailey put it easily past an out of position Thomas Greiss, who replaced Smith in net to start the third period.
“I think we just played solid throughout the night,” Donovan said. “Unlike our last game we didn’t let up. We stayed on our toes and kept them on their heels. And just kept pushing. We got some good goals and some good offensive chances from it.”
The Islanders are happy with the win and taking five of the possible six points from the opening three games, but heading into their two game road trip out west the team knows there is still plenty of challenges to come.
“I don’t think we’re satisfied or anything,” Bailey responded when asked about the successful opening weekend. “I don’t even think we’ve thought a whole lot about it. I think we expect to win now. I think tonight’s an example of that.
“You come in here guys are happy, but we’re already moving on to our next opponent.”