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Coyotes keep Islanders sliding on road

PA Stats Inc
By:
The Hockey News
News

Coyotes keep Islanders sliding on road

PA Stats Inc
By:

GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Despite a fair amount of
positives, the New York Islanders still were unable to end their
lengthy road losing streak.

Defenseman Zbynek Michalek recorded a goal and an assist in his
300th career game as the Phoenix Coyotes posted a 5-4 victory
over the Islanders on Friday.

Rookie Viktor Tikhonov, captain Shane Doan, Olli Jokinen and
Joakim Lindstrom also scored for the Coyotes, who have won three
of four overall and four of five at home.

"It was a good two points for us," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky
said. "It seems like we have a much better mind set at home
this season. The players are obviously much more comfortable at
home. We're playing really strong in this building and the
atmosphere is really solid."

Richard Park netted a pair of goals and set up another, Josh
Bailey scored his first NHL tally and Doug Weight eclipsed the
1,000-point mark with a pair of assists for New York, which has
lost 11 straight road games (0-10-1).

"I think the highlight of the night for me was Doug Weight
getting his 1,000th point," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.
"We're all happy for him. I'm sure he's pretty excited and
relieved it was over with. I know he thought it was inevitable
that it was going to come. It's a select crowd that gets into
that category, and it's well-deserved."

After missing three straight games and 30 of the previous 31 due
to injury, franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro returned to the
crease for the Islanders, who have not won away from home since
posting a 4-3 shootout triumph at Montreal on November 24.

"It felt good. It was good to get back into the game and get
some live action," said DiPietro, whose latest ailment was a
strained groin. "We've done everything over the last couple of
days to make sure it wouldn't be a problem, and it worked out.
It was nice that I didn't hurt anything and finished the game.
Besides losing, I feel good physically."

But even his return was not enough to end the team's skid.

Tikhonov opened the scoring just 1:46 into the contest by
beating DiPietro with a backhander from the low slot. Sean
Bergenheim drew New York even at 9:20 with his seventh goal of
the season, but Michalek beat DiPietro to the stick side with a
slap shot from above the slot with 10 seconds left in the first
period to put Phoenix ahead for good.

"I've been working hard the whole year," said Michalek, who
leads the league with 135 blocked shots. "It's always good to
get rewarded offensively, too. ... Anytime you score in the last
minute of any period, it's a big momentum change for your team.
It was a big momentum-changer for us."

Doan made it 3-1 with 4:55 remaining in the middle session with
a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle. Former
Islander Steven Reinprecht notched his 200th career assist on
the play.

Jokinen increased the lead to three goals at 3:10 of the third,
burying a rebound while alone in front after DiPietro stopped
Michalek's blast from the right point.

Playing in his 25th game after being drafted ninth overall last
June, Bailey halved the deficit by converting captain Bill
Guerin's backhand pass from behind the net just 31 seconds
later.

"I can't even explain it," Bailey said. "It felt really good.
Obviously, it was wearing on me quite a bit for the last while
now. Hopefully, the floodgates will open now and I'll get a lot
more confidence. ... It's more of a relief than anything."

"Josh probably could have had a hat trick tonight with some of
the chances he had in the slot," Gordon said. "It was a long
time coming and probably should have had it earlier, but he
earned it."

But Lindstrom restored the Coyotes' three-goal bulge with his
fourth tally of the season with 6:27 remaining, stealing the
puck from Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and scoring on a
breakaway.

"I kind of picked the puck from the defenseman," Lindstrom said.
"I was trying to go five-hole and was successful getting it
through there."

Park made things interesting by scoring twice in a span of 2
minutes, 38 seconds.

"When you're up 5-2, you don't expect it to end up like that,"
Doan said. "Obviously, we've got to be better than that, but it
was a big win."

Weight helped set up both of Park's goals, with the first assist
accounting for his 1,000th career point.

"It felt good," Weight said. "I think it would have been better
if we'd been able to creep back into a tie there. I couldn't
really move all game, felt a little nervous, had 25-30 people
here. It's exciting. It's a proud day, proud for my family.
It's something I'll be proud of and remember for the rest of my
life."

Park, retrieved the puck and gave it to his teammate, was just
as excited as Weight.

"To be part of it, not only as a teammate but to get in on that
accomplishment, is something I'll always remember," Park said.
"It's a great honor to play with Doug and to call him a
teammate.

"Things like that don't happen too much in this game. I think
that speaks volumes about Doug as a hockey player, and the
dedication and sacrifice he's endured to get to that point."

The 37-year-old veteran became the 73rd player - and eighth born
in the United States - in NHL history to reach the plateau.
Despite accomplishing the feat on the road, Weight received a
nice ovation from the crowd at Jobing.com Arena.

"It was unbelievable for the team to stand up and give me a
hand, and the crowd," he said. "Being an American, it's nice to
do it on this soil. It was a very nice hand I got, and I
appreciate it."

Weight also drew praise from the NHL's all-time scoring leader.

"Anytime you can get 1,000 points in this league, it's a
tremendous honor," Gretzky said. "It's a lot of hard work and
dedication and a lot of playing through injury and everything
that goes with that. He's been tremendous for our game and good
for USA Hockey."

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Coyotes keep Islanders sliding on road