First Posted: 10/8/2013
(AP) John Tavares scored his first two goals of the season and defenseman Matt Donovan added the first of his NHL career to lift the New York Islanders over the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 on Tuesday night.
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.
Evgeni Nabokov was the beneficiary of all the offense 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.
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.
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 the Columbus Blue Jackets to get even in the third period and lost 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.
New York struck quickly against the Coyotes, who hadn’t visited the Nassau Coliseum since December 2010.
Phoenix defenseman 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.
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.
Hanzal answered moments later, but New York wasn’t deterred.
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.