The Upshot: Islanders fall to Coyotes for second time this season in 5-4 loss

New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes
New York Islanders v Arizona Coyotes / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

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Clayton Keller scored twice, and Nick Schmaltz had three assists as the Arizona Coyotes completed a season sweep of the New York Islanders with a 5-4 win at Mullett Arena on Friday night. Sebastian Aho and Mathew Barzal had first-period goals for the Isles (17-13-1), who lost for the sixth time in eight games (2-5-1). Karel Vejmelka, who shut out the Islanders in November, made 30 saves in the win, while Ilya Sorokin had 24 saves as he suffered his fifth straight defeat.

Shayne Gostisbehere scored at 19:16 of the opening period to give momentum back to the Coyotes, who scored three consecutive goals to take the lead in the second. Noah Dobson tied the game 3-3 at 17:45 on a shot near the blue line, but Travis Boyd broke the tie at 2:08 of the third period and Keller's second of the game made it a two-goal lead.


Friday was the third time that the Islanders scored twice in the first period all season. So often, flat starts have led to the team being reliant on third-period comebacks when the opposition is trying to protect the lead. On this night, they got the start they wanted. First, Sebastian Aho scored just 1:41 into the game, and later Mathew Barzal scored a different type of goal for him, tipping Robin Salo's shot from in-close and then knocking it past the goal line.

The game also saw the return of Anthony Beauvillier and Kyle Palmieri to the lineup. Beauvuiller played 14:07 with three shots and scored his sixth goal of the season 18:21 into the third period. Meanwhile, Palmieri just played 10:46 as he had to come out of the game after taking a high hit by Arizona's Nick Ritchie and being pulled by the concussion spotter. "I finished the game," Palmieri said after the game when asked how he was feeling. "So not much to say about the hit."


What went wrong in this game was a continuation of what has been going wrong this season. The Islanders, despite their veteran laden roster, have been inconsistent, not only game-to-game, but period to period and Friday night's loss was the latest example of that.

""We've got to stop playing a good game, then playing a bad game, then playing a good game. We're good hockey team, we believe we're a good hockey team, but we have to bring it every night. We can't go on a rollercoaster ride with the way we're going to play we're not going to have success that way.""

Matt Martin after the 5-4 loss

After having an ideal start, jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Coyotes scored a goal late in the first period and seized momentum that the Islanders had trouble getting back. The sharpness in their game disappeared, and they were outworked and outplayed from that point. In fact, Arizona had a stretch where they recorded 14 consecutive shots on goal from 17:47 of the first period to 9:09 of the second period


Per Eric Hornick in The Skinny, It is the first time that the Coyote franchise, which dates to 1979-80 as the Original Winnipeg Jets, has beaten the Isles twice in regulation in a single season.  (The Jets beat the Isles twice in 1983-84 but one of the wins was in overtime.)


After giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead with his fourth goal of the season, Mathew Barzal had this exchange with a referee that had a wide range of facial expressions in five seconds.


The Islanders are back on the ice Saturday night as they take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the second half of a back-to-back. The face-off is at 10 PM ET