After winning their season openers, the New York Islanders and Phoenix Coyotes each feel they took a step back in their most recent contests.
Both teams look to get back on track as New York hosts Phoenix for the first time in nearly three years Tuesday night.
The Islanders (1-0-1) beat New Jersey 4-3 in a shootout Friday to win their first season opener since 2007, but they blew a 2-0 third-period lead before falling 3-2 in a shootout to Columbus on Saturday.
New York also allowed the Devils to force overtime with a goal midway through the third.
"We got three out of four points, but we have to be doing whatever it takes,' coach Jack Capuano said. "Keep showing a willingness to compete. For the most part we did, but the guys have to learn that you have to play hard every shift."
Capuano was pleased with the play of Evgeni Nabokov, who made 27 saves. He may be in net again Tuesday, as he's 4-2-1 with a 2.21 goals-against average in his last seven against the Coyotes.
Captain John Tavares assisted on the goals by Matt Moulson and Lubomir Visnovsky in the first period Saturday after his line that also features Moulson and Kyle Okposo went scoreless in the opener.
"It's back to the drawing board and trying to build off the good things we did this weekend," Tavares said.
Phoenix (1-1-0) is in a similar situation. Radim Vrbata recorded his fifth career hat trick in Thursday's 4-1 win over the New York Rangers, but the Coyotes were outshot 51-23 and allowed three goals within the first 13 minutes of Saturday's 4-1 loss to San Jose.
"When you give up 50 shots, you're going to be hard pressed to win a game on any given night,' goaltender Mike Smith said. "Everything we did well in the first game we didn't do (Saturday), and it showed."
Smith made 47 saves and faced at least 16 shots in every period.
"The score would have been a lot worse if he didn't play like that,' coach Dave Tippett said.
Smith's performance aside, not much carried over from the opening-night victory as defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the team's lone goal in the second period.
Captain Shane Doan said the Coyotes will need a more inspired effort moving forward.
"We stopped making plays and we couldn't get out of our own zone,' Doan said. "We stopped playing hockey. We have to be better than that. We let them have the extra opportunities a lot.'
Phoenix hasn't visited Long Island since Vrbata and Doan each scored in the shootout to help the Coyotes earn a 4-3 victory Dec. 18, 2010. Doan recorded his only career hat trick and Ekman-Larsson added a goal and an assist in Phoenix's 5-1 win over the Islanders in the most recent meeting Jan. 7, 2012.
Smith made 31 saves in the last contest and has won each of his three career starts against New York while posting a 1.00 GAA.
Capuano said forward Cal Clutterbuck, who suffered a laceration from a skate in an exhibition game Sept. 17, is back skating and could make his Islanders debut at some point this week.
The Associated Press News Service
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