NEW YORK — A winless team heading out on a five-game road trip faces a difficult enough task. However, the challenges facing the Arizona Coyotes will grow even taller Tuesday night, when they visit a New York Islanders squad accustomed to feasting upon Western Conference foes at Barclays Center.
The Coyotes continued the worst start in franchise history Saturday, when they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks to fall to 0-7-1.
The Islanders (4-3-1) won their second in a row on Saturday with a 5-3 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. With the win, the Islanders improved to a 22-4-4 against the Western Conference at home since moving to Barclays Center prior to the 2015-16 season.
“I’d like to read into it and figure out what it is, but I don’t know,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said Saturday night. “It’s been a pretty consistent effort there. We have good results. I’m not going to overthink it, that’s for sure.”
First-year Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet’s objective is to ensure his team doesn’t overthink its miserable start, especially given that Arizona traveled east of the Mountain time zone just once in the first eight games.
“It’s going to be a tough part of our schedule,” Tocchet said Monday. “The thing that you’re kind of disappointed in is the schedule was in our favor a little bit and we didn’t take advantage of it. Now we’ve got to look ahead.”
Clayton Keller has one of the Coyotes’ two goals in Saturday’s loss and leads all rookies with six goals on the season. He also leads in shots (30), is tied for second in points (8) and third in time on ice (19:46).
Max Domi assisted on Keller’s goal, giving him a team-leading six assists. He’s up to 97 points through the first 148 games of his career — which has him on pace to reach 100 points faster than any player in franchise history. Peter Mueller is the current record holder, scoring his 100th point in game No. 187.
The Coyotes and Islanders have at least one thing in common — fluid goaltending situations.
Arizona’s projected No. 1 goalie Antti Raanta (lower-body injury) has missed the past four games, a stretch in which backups Louis Domingue and Adin Hill combined to allow 16 goals. Domingue stopped 25 shots in taking the loss against the Blackhawks on Saturday and is expected to get the start vs. the Islanders.
Jaroslav Halak, who is expected to start vs. Arizona, and former Coyote Thomas Greiss have made four starts apiece for the Islanders. Greiss earned the win Saturday by recording 28 saves against the Sharks. Halak last started on Thursday, when he stopped 38 shots and notched the victory in a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers.
Halak is 7-3-1 against the Coyotes, while Domingue has a 2-1-0 mark vs. the Islanders.
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) October 24, 2017