John Tavares scored his second goal of the night into an empty net with 40 seconds remaining to seal a thorough 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes in Brooklyn, as the New York Islanders' offense showed one more sign of following their all-around game on the path to re-awakening.
For basically the first time this season, the Islanders both delivered a full 60-minute -- well, we'll call it 55 -- effort and were fully rewarded for it. After converting on their first power play early in the game with Frans Nielsen converting on another pretty passing play, three consecutive missed power play opportunities threatened to haunt the Isles. But rather than suffer breaks they kept applying pressure, tightening the noose on the visitors.
That was true despite reaching the second intermission with only a 1-0 lead to show for 40 minutes of pretty solid work. But Kyle Okposo forced a turnover by a roaming Anders Lindback behind the Coyotes net, Brock Nelson won the puck back to Okposo, and Okposo fed the ever-predatory Tavares on the doorstep to slip it by Lindback and create breathing room.
When pressed while the game was still in doubt, Jaroslav Halak was there to handle the pressure and came five minutes short of a shutout. That's when the Isles, riding a 4-0 lead, let up a little too much.
They allowed the Coyotes to finally break through when Martin Hanzal kicked and then shot his own rebound to make it 4-1. With Lindback pulled for a sixth attacker, Mikkel Boedker added another on a late power play as the Isles let the lesser Dane waltz through their zone and alone on Halak, who didn't stop that one but stopped 30 others.
But the resulting two points are just as valuable despite the final five minutes.
Other notables: Nelson scored in his third consecutive game, Kyle Okposo assisted on the first three, and Steve Bernier scored his first goal as an Islander by avoiding mortal injury on a Johnny Boychuk shot.
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The Final Five Minutes
Kind of like this:
Butch: that's why you can never lose your focus Howie: you think they did? Butch: not at all, just saying...— Rookie Example (@KeithLHHockey) November 17, 2015
Here's that whole Butch sequence about losing focus. And something about football I don't know. pic.twitter.com/1cEjp4ep4e— Rookie Example (@KeithLHHockey) November 17, 2015
But That First 55 Minutes Though...
Tonight reminds me of 11/11/14 vs. COL -- 1st home game after California trip, #Isles were dominant in 6-0 win.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) November 17, 2015
The Week Ahead
The Isles are off tomorrow -- Nick Leddy will be active in the CityParks Street Hockey program at Sunset Park Recreation Center though -- then have two days to prepare for the Montreal Canadiens' visit on Friday as the first part of a Friday-Sunday home-and-home. The Canadiens will be coming in after hosting these same Coyotes on Thursday night.
On Wednesday morning, duos and trios of Isles will be scattered at local schools for the annual School Day activities.