|NYI||1||2||0||(0 - 0)||3|
|PHX||1||4||1||(0 - 0)||6|
ISLANDERS (9-18-5) at COYOTES (17-8-5)
Season Series: It seems like a long time ago considering how things have gone for both teams since, but the New York Islanders won the opener of this home-and-home against the Phoenix Coyotes convincingly, 6-1 at Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 8.
Big Story: The Coyotes return home fresh off a 2-1-1 road trip capped off by a healthy 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Phoenix will enter the game 7-1-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference this season.
Coyotes: Even though goalies Mike Smith and Thomas Greiss have solid records against the Avalanche, it was still important that the Coyotes remained on top of their game against their division rivals. With Smith feeling ill Tuesday morning, Greiss had to slot in on short notice and he was up to the task, stopping 29 shots in the 3-1 win against the Avalanche.
Smith will be back in goal on Thursday vs. the Islanders. He is 3-1-0 with one shutout, a 2.18 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in four career games against New York.
"He's back to 100 percent healthy, he said, so Mike Smith will start," Head Coach Dave Tippett said after Thursday's morning skate.
Forward Rob Klinkhammer already has established a new career high in games played (30) this season and has tied his career highs in goals (five), assists (six) and points (11).
Regarding this rematch with the Islanders, Klinkhammer said: "That was a tough point in the season for us, we didn't get out to a good start and we weren't playing our game, but I think we definitely remember that. They gave it to us in their building. It will be nice to have a strong game against them tonight."
The Coyotes will again play minus captain/leading goal scorer Shane Doan, who is out because of an illness.
"I think everybody's doing a good job rallying around him and trying to get some wins so it's not too hard on him when he's out," defenseman Keith Yandle said.
Islanders: New York's win Tuesday at San Jose was somewhat reminiscent of last season's drive to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, rallying from two goals down and getting tremendous goaltending from Kevin Poulin (46 saves) they've lacked all season.
Change is coming too; 2011 first-round draft pick (No. 5) Ryan Strome is joining the Islanders and could offer some punch to one of the Isles' secondary lines. Strome leads the American Hockey League with 33 points (nine goals, 24 assists) in 23 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
"It was a great phone call to get and I will remember it forever," Strome told the team website Wednesday. "At the same time there is a lot of work to be done, and I don't want to just come up for a cup of coffee. I want to show that I belong, help the team win and prove my spot in the line-up. I want to show them that I'm ready to come up and they made the right choice."
Who's hot: Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette had two goals Tuesday and extended his point streak to four games. Center Mike Ribeiro has points in four of his past five... Tavares has picked up the pace again, with four points in his past two games after being held without a point in the previous two. Kyle Okposo had a goal and an assist Tuesday, while Thomas Vanek scored in his second straight game.
Injury report: Doan (illness) hasn't played since Dec. 4. Defenseman Derek Morris also is out while he deals with a family matter. Forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) remains out indefinitely... Islanders defenseman Brian Strait (upper body) has been activated, and goalie Evgeni Nabokov (groin) is due back soon, but defenseman Radek Martinek (back spasms) was placed on injured reserve Friday and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) remains out with no timetable for a return.
|Dec 12 '13||NYI 3 at PHX 6||M. Ribeiro|
|Oct 08 '13||PHX 1 at NYI 6||J. Tavares|
|C. de Haan||7||0||0||0||-3||0||0||0|