The NY Islanders (17-10-10) head to the desert as they take on the Arizona Coyotes (19-15-2) at Mullett Arena.
The Islanders played in high-altitude Ball Arena against the Colorado Avalanche. From the start, the Islanders found themselves back in their defensive zone, giving up 5 shots on net before Pierre Engvall scored on a breakaway goal assisted by Brock Nelson. The Avalanche wasted no time responding, with Devon Toews continuing his revenge tour against the Islanders to tie the game 1-1. Semyon Varlamov played well early but left the game after 15 minutes due to injury. Following back-to-back successful penalty kills, Nelson found a breakaway shot from Mathew Barzal and scored his 17th goal of the season to make the game 2-1.
The second period started with momentum for the Islanders as Simon Holmstrom also scored on a breakaway goal from Cal Clutterbuck. Following a high-sticking penalty on Barzal, Valeri Nichushkin and Jonathon Drouin scored to tie the game 3-3. The game continued to swing as Alexander Romanov answered right away, scoring off the skate of Ryan Johansen. Robert Bortuzzo would leave the game following a hit from Samuel Girard.
The Islanders lost all momentum in the third period. The Avalanche seemed to be on offense the entire period, outshooting the Islanders 12-5. This led to Nichushkin’s 2nd goal of the game following a Mike Reilly interference penalty. Scott Mayfield was penalized for holding with 22 seconds left, causing the Islanders to lose on a Nathan Mackinnon powerplay goal in overtime 5-4.
The Coyotes took on the Florida Panthers at Mullett Arena. The game opened with a goal from Carter Verhaeghe to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. The teams began an onslaught of fights midway through the first period, with Alexander Kerfoot receiving a major for roughing. The game remained 1-0 until late in the second period when Gustav Forsling and Jason Zucker were both penalized 20 minutes for fighting. Kerfoot would get his revenge to open the third period and tie the game 1-1. Following a Liam O’Brien major penalty for misconduct, the Panthers would break the game open to score 3 unanswered goals and beat the Coyotes 4-1.
The Islanders did not fare well in either matchup against the Coyotes in 2022-23. The first matchup came on November 10th, 2022, at UBS Arena. The game remained scoreless following the first period where the Islanders went 0-for-2 on the powerplay. Matt Martin and Josh Brown were both penalized for fighting. Following Josh Bailey’s holding penalty at the end of the second period, Travis Boyd scored to make the game 1-0. After failing to capitalize on Boyd’s tripping penalty, the Islanders gave up an empty netter to Jack McBain with 30 seconds left to lose 2-0.
The second matchup came on December 16th, 2022, at Mullett Arena. The game started well with Sebastian Aho scoring in the first 2 minutes. Barzal would follow with his 4th goal of the season to make the game 2-0. However, this lead would not last long as Arizona countered with 3 unanswered goals, including 2 of them within 15 seconds of each other in the second period. The Islanders failed to gain momentum because they couldn’t keep themselves out of the penalty box, having to kill off 5 of them in this game. Following a late second-period unassisted goal from Noah Dobson, Boyd and Clayton Keller scored in the third period to put the game out of reach winning 5-4.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Barzal is one point away from achieving the 400th of his career. While his assists have been there, Barzal has been goalless in his last 9 games. Ilya Sorokin has appeared in the last 5 games and has shown fatigue, allowing 19 goals over that stretch. The powerplay has struggled, only scoring once in the last 8 games. The team has also struggled mightily in the faceoff circle, winning just 39% against the Pittsburgh Penguins and 47% against the Avalanche. Watch for adjustments to be made given Arizona’s 46.8% success rate in the faceoff circle.
The Coyotes have quietly found themselves in a playoff spot to start 2024. Keller and Lawson Crouse have led the way with 31 and 24 points respectively. Defenseman J.J. Moser was selected with one of the Isles’ 2nd round draft picks sent to Arizona along with Andrew Ladd in 2021. He has 3 goals, 12 assists, and 55 blocked shots this season. 2022 3rd-overall pick Logan Cooley has struggled in his rookie season, though is a threat on the powerplay with 2 goals and 8 assists.
Anders Lee - Bo Horvat - Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom - J.G. Pageau – Julien Gauthier
Hudson Fasching - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Alexander Romanov - Noah Dobson
Samuel Bolduc – Scott Mayfield
Mike Reilly - Sebastian Aho
Clayton Keller – Alex Kerfoot – Nick Schmaltz
Matias Maccelli – Nick Bjugstad – Lawson Crouse
Michael Carcone – Jack McBain – Zach Sanford
Liam O’Brien – Logan Cooley – Jason Zucker
Sean Durzi – Michael Kesselring
J.J. Moser – Mathew Dumba
Jusso Valimaki – Troy Stecher