UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The New York Islanders were merely content with a lopsided victory. The Phoenix Coyotes were flat-out humiliated.
With production from all four lines, the Islanders built a big lead and carried it to a 6-1 win over the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
While New York coach Jack Capuano was pleased with his team’s performance, he tempered his remarks and didn’t heap too much praise on his club.
“We got some bounces. Let’s not kid ourselves,” Capuano said. “The score didn’t indicate the way the game was.”
John Tavares scored his first two goals of the season and defenceman Matt Donovan added the first of his NHL career in a rare meeting between the Islanders and Coyotes. Phoenix hadn’t visited Long Island since December 2010.
Peter Regin and Tavares scored in the first period for the Islanders (2-0-1), and Donovan, Tavares and Colin McDonald connected in the second against beleaguered goalie Mike Smith to turn it into a rout.
Frans Nielsen earned the second of his three assists on the night when McDonald made it 5-1 with 2:36 left in the second.
“You get embarrassed as a professional athlete. It’s unacceptable,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “There has to be accountability in our room. They have a really good team that moves the puck well, and we let them do it all night.”
Evgeni Nabokov was the beneficiary of all the offence and made 33 saves for the win. The 38-year-old goalie has started all three games for the Islanders.
Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists, and Michael Grabner had three assists for New York, which was outshot 34-28. Regin added an assist.
“It was just a full-team effort,” forward Kyle Okposo said. “We talked about the third period. We wanted to come out and play better and not give them anything. I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Martin Hanzal gave the Coyotes (1-2) a brief spark when his first of the season made it 3-1. Smith stopped only 15 shots and was replaced at the start of the third period by Thomas Greiss, who made his Phoenix debut.
Bailey made it 6-1 against Greiss, off assists from Nielsen and Grabner, with 7:41 left.
“It’s completely unacceptable,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “We have a lot of work to do as a team. We just weren’t good enough.”
For the second straight game, the Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead and tried to protect it. They were unsuccessful in their home opener on Saturday when they allowed Columbus to get even in the third period and beat them in a shootout.
This time, the Islanders pushed their edge to 3-0 with their second power-play goal, but the Coyotes responded 43 seconds later with Hanzal’s goal to cut the deficit back to two.
“A two-goal lead at home is something you’d love to have every night. It was good to take advantage of that,” Tavares said. “We have confidence with the lead. It was nice to get another one and keep playing the way we want to play.
“Our third goal was a big goal. On Saturday we didn’t get the third goal.”
New York took control early against the Coyotes.
Phoenix defenceman Zbynek Michalek turned over the puck near the blue line, and Regin calmly skated into the left circle, with his head up. He deftly snapped a shot over the shoulder of the 6-foot-4 Smith and into the left corner just 1:49 into the game.
“Sometimes you have that feeling-out process at the start of the game, but Peter’s line did a great job of getting us into it right away,” Bailey said. “Having a goal within the first two minutes really boosted the guys, and after that we seemed to respond really well.”
The Islanders earned the first power play with 6:24 left in the first, and the Coyotes compounded the problem on the ensuing faceoff when Antoine Vermette was whistled for delay of game when he smothered the puck in the circle.
Tavares took advantage of the two-man power play when he slam-dunked a cross-crease pass from Nielsen inside the right post. Phoenix managed to kill the remainder of Vermette’s penalty, but trailed 2-0 after one period despite a 7-6 edge in shots.
Donovan pushed the lead to 3-0 at 11:47 of the second during a power play with a hard shot that Smith smothered. However, the puck trickled behind him and over the line.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” Capuano said.
Tavares, the Islanders’ new captain, notched his second with 5:11 left in the period, and McDonald made it 5-1 just 2:35 later.
NOTES: The Coyotes were without D Derek Morris, who missed the game because of an upper-body injury despite taking part in the morning skate. … The Islanders again scratched RW Cal Clutterbuck, who is close to returning following a leg laceration sustained during the preseason. … Phoenix is 0-2 on a five-game trip that has three Eastern stops remaining. … Dating to last season, the Islanders had played six straight one-goal games—including five shootouts. They went 2-1-3.