Point Earned for Islanders in 4-3 Shootout loss to Coyotes

Uniondale, NY - The New York Islanders (6-18-6) fell in the shootout frame to the Phoenix Coyotes (15-9-7) in Saturday night hockey action.

Starting in cage tonight making his NHL Debut was Nathan Lawson, who was starting on an emergency basis from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Lawson was called into duty thanks to some minor swelling in the knee of keeper Rick DiPietro.

As the horn sounded to start the first period of play the Islanders went on an offensive flurry, as Radek Martinek would set the tone with the first shot of the game. Martinek would let go of a wicked 90 foot wrist shot that was saved by Phoenix keeper Jason LaBarbera at the 12 second marker.

Phoenix put Lawson right to work in the cage as the keeper made his first NHL save at the 1:29 mark, as former Islanders-star Adrian Aucoin would try to net a 24 foot wrist shot. Lawson was up to the task making the stop

It didn’t take long for the physical play between the two teams grew until the 2:13 mark when Paul Bissonnette of the Coyotes dropped gloves with Islanders Trevor Gilles. The two combatants took a while to feel each other out, before letting go a flurry of hard rights. Gilles was able to lay some bombs on Bissonnette right on the center ice of Nassau Coliseum. The refs let the two players go at it for a while before breaking the pair to a loud ovation.

The Islanders would continue on their offensive momentum as Matt Moulson tried a 38 foot wrist shot which was saved by LaBarbera. Shortly after that John Tavares let off a 49 foot snap shot that was also saved by the Phoenix keeper.

In spite of the offensive flurry by the Islanders it was the Coyotes who were able to strike for the first goal of the game. New York took a 2:00 penalty by Matt Martin who charged Phoenix winger Vernon Fiddler. The Coyotes would pounced at the 6:57 mark when Radim Vrbata (7) tallied a tip-in, on a one-timer by Shane Doan (10), with the secondary assist coming from Keith Yandle (15) for the 1-0 lead.

As the thunderous hits and shots rang throughout Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders would continue to try to notch their first goal. But only found the keeper LaBarbera up to the task of stopping those shots. The Islanders would have a power play opportunity. It was a very scary moment for Islanders fans as Michael Grabner would fall to the ice from a high-stick by Derek Morris. The Islanders would respond with two good shots coming off the stick of John Tavares at the 11:33 and 11:59 mark respectively. But Tavares could not net the game-tying goal.

The horn would sound on the end of the first period with the Coyotes holding on to the 1-0 lead, in spite of the Islanders holding a 19-8 shots advantage.

With the two teams skating to the ice to start the second period the Islanders offensive momentum would pay off as it was Jesse Joensuu (2) to the rescue. The winger would notch the first Islanders goal at the 9:17 shot recording a 16 foot wrist shot which made the score 1-1.

Joensuu would also be vital when the Islanders took the 2-1 lead at the 14:14 mark. The winger would set up the returning Michael Grabner (7) who would tally a 8 foot wrist shot for the lead. Phoenix would have multiple opportunities on a Jon Sim penalty at the 16:01 mark, but Lawson was up to the task.

The emergency keeper was able to stop some solid opportunities by the Coyotes including a 34 foot slap shot by Vrbata at the 17:38 mark. The horn would eventually sound to end the second period of play with the Islanders holding the 2-1 lead, much to the delight of the 8,433 in attendance. New York also had the shot lead by a tally of 31-21.

In the third period the Coyotes would tie the game for the second time on a Wojtec Wolski(5) wrist shot at the 4:03 mark New York would power up on a power play goal by Rob Schremp (6) at the 6:22 mark. The center would connect on a 13 foot wrist shot that was set up by Grabner (4) and Andrew MacDonald (2) to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Islanders.

Martin Hanzal (9) and the Coyotes would tie the game for the third time at the 18:32 mark. The center would glide in and record a snapshot, which was assisted by Radim Vrbata (11) and Keith Yandle (16) to make the score 3-3. The two teams would need the shootout frame to decide the victor.

The Coyotes would start the frame with Shane Doan who had a nice backhand-to-forehand move for the first Phoenix goal. The Islanders would respond with Frans Nielsen, who recorded a sweet backhanded shot to make the tally 1-1. Radim Vrbata would give the Coyotes the 2-1 lead on a backhanded shot of his own.

New York last hope was on the shoulders of Rob Schremp, who would hit the post. The Coyotes would skate away with the victory on a Kyle Turris wrister, which gave Phoenix the 4-3 victory.

In cage for the Coyotes Jason LaBarbera was stellar making 41 saves in the victory. Lawson was solid for his first game in the NHL making 32 saves.

The Islanders will have three days off before they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 7:00 p.m. face-off on Wednesday night.

Charity Note: Before the December 18, game versus the Phoenix Coyotes the New York Islanders collected toys for the John Theissen Children’s Foundation toy drive. The mission of the John Theissen Foundation is to assist sick and underprivileged children throughout the year. Fans in attendance that brought in three or more toys received a ticket voucher for the Islanders game on January 11, 2011 7:00 p.m. game against the Vancouver Canucks.

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