After a quick trip to San Jose, the Arizona Coyotes are back home for the next three games. And if their last matchup was any indication, the Coyotes are very happy to be home.
Arizona fell 3-2 to the Sharks in regulation, ending the two-game win streak they started when they beat the Boston Bruins in their homecoming. It was a rough game that saw the Coyotes make many of the same mistakes they have been making all season.
It’s easy to see why the Yotes fell against the Islanders; they had a slow start. The Coyotes took only one penalty in the first 10 minutes, a definite improvement, but they gave up two goals in the first five minutes to Tomáš Hertl and Nick Bonino. Falling 2-0 to start is never a good sign, and the Sharks won the game with a Nico Sturm goal midway through the second frame. Arizona was able to get within one, but they couldn’t get the much-needed third goal to tie things up.
But while the result isn’t what they wanted, there are a few positives from Tuesday’s matchup. Arizona only took two penalties, a definite improvement, and the Coyotes managed a rare power play goal late in the opening period. Going one for five on the power play isn’t great, but it is at least a step in the right direction for a team that has struggled to score with the man advantage.
Arizona was also perfect on the penalty kill. Karel Vejmelka only had to face two shots on the power play, which helped, but it was good to see both aspects of the Coyotes’ special teams take a step in the right direction.
The New York Islanders have had an interesting month since falling 2-0 to the Coyotes last November. They have a record of 8-6-1 through 15 games, including a four-game win streak that saw them beat the Maple Leafs, Oilers, Blue Jackets, and Flyers. Losing to the Coyotes must have proved to be a wake-up call because outside of a 3-1 loss to the Flyers to end their win streak, they have avoided falling to any of the bottom-feeder teams they faced.
Tonight will be the second game of a four-game road trip that started with the Islanders falling 4-3 to the Boston Bruins in the shootout on Tuesday. The Islanders had to come back twice against Boston, but only Mathew Barzal scored in the shootout, while the Bruins coasted to a win with goals from Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrňák.
Semyon Varlamov was solid in net against the Bruins, stopping 30 of the 33 shots he faced in his 11th game this season. The Islanders elected to go with Ilya Sorokin the last time they faced the Coyotes, so it will be interesting to see who they go with tonight.
Both teams are playing in the first game of a back-to-back tonight. The Islanders will head to Vegas after tonight’s matchup, while the Coyotes will stay home to host the Buffalo Sabres.
Players to Watch
Arizona: Lawson Crouse - Crouse netted his 13th goal of the season against the Sharks, his third goal in three games. He also had two against the Boston Bruins and has three more goals than Keller for the team lead.
New York: Brock Nelson - Nelson had two assists against the Bruins and is a point-per-game player with 30 points in 30 games. The 31-year-old forward comfortably leads the Islanders with 14 goals, and the Coyotes will need to find a way to contain him.
Arizona: Bryan Little (ear), Andrew Ladd (knee)
New York: Anthony Beauvillier (questionable, shoulder), Adam Pelech (upper body), Kyle Palmieri (upper body)
Tonight’s game will be at Mullett Arena with a 7:30 pm start time. It will air on Bally Sports Arizona and 98.7 FM.