UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Three nights after the New York Islanders allowed a 2-0 lead and a point in the standings slip away on home ice, they showed they learned their lesson.
John Tavares scored his first two goals of the season Tuesday and was one of five players to enjoy a multipoint performance in a 6-1 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Peter Regin, Matt Donovan, Colin McDonald and Josh Bailey also scored for the Islanders (2-0-1). Evgeni Nabokov made 33 saves in his third straight start.
It was an impressive turnaround for the Islanders, who couldn't put the Columbus Blue Jackets away Saturday despite being up by two goals in the third period. New York lost that game in a shootout, 3-2.
"It's big. It's something we really talked about after last game," Bailey said. "Tonight being up 5-1 going into the third, I think you can have that tendency to take your foot off the gas. It's something we really preached and the coaches really preached. I thought the guys did a great job."
Martin Hanzal scored the lone goal for the Coyotes (1-2-0), who continue their five-game road trip Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Phoenix goalie Mike Smith lasted two periods before being replaced by backup Thomas Greiss. Smith allowed five goals on 20 shots.
"The goaltender bailed us out of an even worse situation the other night," said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, referring to a 4-1 road loss against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. "He didn't have his best night tonight. We had some bad breaks go against us, but that being said, we didn't do enough to win a game, and that's what it's about."
New York grabbed a 1-0 lead 1:49 into the game on Regin's first goal with the Islanders. Brock Nelson, who has been one of the better Islanders forwards in the early going, poked the puck away from Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek in the neutral zone, and it trickled up to Regin, who patiently carried it into the slot before ripping a wrist shot past Smith. Nelson, a first-round pick (No. 30) in 2010, recorded his first NHL point with an assist.
"Just to get a solid win I think was huge," said Regin, who signed with the Islanders as a free agent after spending the past five seasons with the Ottawa Senators. "The two other games, even though we've got a lot of points, [there have] been tight games. It's nice to kind of finish them off early on in the game."
The Islanders wound up with a two-man advantage for a full two minutes later in the first period. After David Schlemko was whistled for high sticking, Antoine Vermette was given a delay of game penalty for falling on the puck on the ensuing faceoff. New York cashed in on the power play at 15:07, when Tavares finished off a nice passing display by one-timing Frans Nielsen's cross-ice feed past Smith to make it 2-0.
New York converted again on the power play 11:47 into the second period on Donovan's first NHL goal. With Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro in the box for hooking, Donovan fired a shot from the point that Smith thought he had gobbled up, only to have the puck fall to the ice and trickle over the goal line. Bailey skated over to the net to collect the puck for Donovan, an Oklahoma native.
"Unbelievable feeling," Donovan said. "I'm sure I have a lot of texts from a lot of family and friends that are excited for me that watched the game back home. It's a good feeling. Kids grow up hoping and wishing for that day to come that you score your first NHL goal, and it's a pretty cool feeling."
Phoenix quickly responded on Hanzal's goal at 12:30 of the second. With the teams back at even strength, Hanzal took a cross-ice feed from Mikkel Boedker and unleashed a laser from the slot that beat Nabokov up high to make it 3-1.
But instead of playing on their heels and allowing the Coyotes back in the game, the Islanders restored the three-goal lead before the end of the second. Tavares scored his second of the night at 14:49, when his pass attempt to Michael Grabner went off the shaft of Schlemko's stick and then past a bewildered Smith.
New York added another goal for good measure before the end of the second period. McDonald made it 5-1 with 2:36 left when he took a pass from Nielsen and ripped a shot from the slot past Smith for his first goal of the season.
Bailey rounded out the scoring at 12:19 of the third period with his first goal of the season. It was the culmination of yet another nice passing display from Grabner and Nielsen, who each had three assists. Bailey finished with a goal and two assists.
"That's how we want to play. We want to play fast," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's the style this team wants to play. I sensed the attitude and the positivity on the bench with our guys. We want to keep pushing against a good hockey team. I thought we did that."
Tuesday marked the first time Phoenix visited the Islanders since Dec. 18, 2010. It was a trip they'd rather soon forget.
"You get embarrassed as a professional athlete, there has to be accountability in our room," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "It has to be accountable to each one, to each other. That's not acceptable. Not even close."
Added Tippett: "We don't have enough players playing with the right identity right now."
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