It's just one game into the season and the NY Islanders are already battling the injury bug as defenseman Scott Mayfield will be unable to go tonight after taking a shot off the ankle from a Rasmus Dahlin slap shot on opening night. It appears Samuel Bolduc will make his season debut against the Arizona Coyotes, as the defense will need to be shuffled as they'll play with four left-handed shots and two right.
The Islanders defeated conference rivals, the Buffalo Sabres, in their season opener on Saturday. An early goal by Brock Nelson set the pace of the game with the Islanders' sustained pressure over their opponent. The second line stole the show, with Kyle Palmieri getting the second goal of the 2023-24 season at UBS Arena. The second period got away from the Isles as they let off the gas, but a few big saves by Ilya Sorokin and constant pressure by the offense kept the Sabres at one goal for the period. The Isles still have room to grow defensively, especially on their top defensive pair, with Adam Pelech and the offensively talented Noah Dobson. The Sabres were able to sneak a second goal past Sorokin, but the Isles picked up the pressure and were able to get in a few chances of their own. Casey Cizikas set the Sabres packing with a game-winning goal late in the third, but in pure Islanders fashion, a coaches challenge for offside was called. Luckily for the Isles, the call on the ice stood, and kicked off the season with a 3-2 victory.
The Arizona Coyotes are taking a short trip to Long Island from Manhattan, finishing the second half of a back-to-back in New York on Tuesday against the Islanders. Despite only losing 2-1, the NY Rangers dominated play on Monday night, including an outstanding save on a Jason Zucker penalty shot by Igor Shesterkin. The Yotes' speed caused issues for the Rangers at times, but they struggled to find the back of the net.
The last time the Islanders played Arizona was in December 2022 at Mullet Arena. The Islanders took an early lead over the Yotes thanks to goals by Mat Barzal and Sebastian Aho. Sorokin stood tall all game, but a few unlucky bounces didn't go their way. The Coyotes scored twice in 14 seconds mid-way through the second period, taking a 3-2 lead over the Isles. The final nail in the coffin for the Islanders was a goal by Travis Boyd, who buried his own rebound 2:08 into the third. The Islanders couldn't catch up with the Coyotes, as the struggling Desert Dog held on for the win. The Coyotes line of Boyd, Clayton Keller, and Nick Schmaltz dominated play, with Schmaltz having just returned from an injury he suffered in September.
Players to Watch
Isles fan's favorite month of the year has finally arrived, and Brocktober is in full swing. The Isles' leading goal scorer from last season garnered a goal and an assist against the Sabres and was a +2 on the night. The Islanders' second line of Nelson, Pierre Engvall, and Palmieri was the team's best line on the ice all game. The three came out of the gate guns blazing on Saturday and are looking to continue to grow their chemistry and two-way dominance in the season's second game.
Keller has been one of the Coyotes' best players through the season's first two games, registering two assists against the New Jersey Devils and a goal against the Rangers. Rookie Logan Cooley has also shown out for the Coyotes amid their 1-1-0 start to the season, totaling three assists and averaging around 19:00 minutes of ice time a night.
Mat Barzal-Bo Horvat-Simon Holstrom
Pierre Engvall-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Hudson Fasching
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech-Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov-Ryan Pulock
Samuel Bolduc-Sebastian Aho
Clayton Keller-Barrett Hayton-Nick Schmaltz
Jason Zucker-Logan Cooley-Alexander Kerfoot
Matias Maccelli-Nick Bjugstad-Lawson Crouse
Liam O'Brien-Jack McBain-Travis Boyd
J.J. Moser-Sean Durzi
Travis Dermott-Mathew Dumba
Juuso Valimaki-Troy Stecher
*Lines courtesy of Daily Faceoff