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New York Islanders

Islanders Find Direction In Desert; Lockdown In Third To Beat ‘Yotes



AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Before Mathew Barzal took the ice for the New York Islanders in the friendliest of unfriendly environments, he was named to his third career All-Star Game. When he was on it, the forward collected two assists, recording and then surpassing 400 points in his career.

Once he left the frozen sheet at the end of Thursday night, Barzal’s personal accomplishments, combined with a two-goal effort from his linemate Bo Horvat, helped the Islanders achieve a collective one in the form of a 5-1 win over the Coyotes.

Horvat’s two goals bookended the action inside a Mullett Arena that was filled with more blue and orange than desert rock red.

After Kyle Palmieri drew a tripping penalty from Arizona’s Nick Bjustad, it took Horvat just 11 seconds into the ensuing to put the Islanders on the board. Coyote’s goalie, Connor Ingram, stopped Noah Dobson’s initial shot from the point. However, the rebound went right to Horvat in the bumper position, where he flicked a quick wrist shot underneath Ingram’s glove.

Horvat beat Ingram again later in the third period, as the Islanders forward created a turnover at the red line and scored his 16th goal of the season unassisted.

Horvat finished the evening with three points to his stat line. Using his body to stop an Arizona clearing attempt, Horvat chipped the puck ahead to Barzal, who found Mike Reilly skating into the attacking zone with an authority that he used to blast his third goal of the season to make the score 2-0 Islanders at 12:02 of the first.

Reilly led all players in the game with six shots on goal, matching his single-game high.

As helpful as Reilly’s effort benefitted the Islanders, his indiscretions hurt them just as much.

Called for a cross-checking early in the second, Reilly was later joined by Cal Clutterbuck in the box. That gave Nick Schmaltz ample space to operate with a five-on-three power play as he threw a one-timer underneath the crossbar with a shot from below the left faceoff circle.

That blow was enough to stagger the Islanders for the remainder of the period. They spent the rest of the second pinned in their own zone but escaped still ahead by one thanks to Ilya Sorokin’s aggressiveness in net despite being outshot 13-6 in the frame. He finished the night with 25 saves on 26 shots.

In the typically anxiety-inducing third period, the Islanders came back at the Coyotes with equal force and even better results.

Anders Lee pounced on a turnover in the slot and quickly deposited it past Ingram for his 11th of the year. Julien Gauthier struck for New York 53 seconds later as he shot high blocker side for his fifth goal of the season.

The win improves the Islanders’ record to 1-1-1 on their current road trip and 18-10-10 overall. They’ll conclude their four-game trip on Saturday night against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Golden Knights in Las Vegas.