Goals haven’t come easy for the New York Islanders this season. That wasn’t the case in their last contest.
The Islanders look to build off their highest-scoring game in more than two years while trying to conclude a winning homestand with a second straight victory Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
New York (21-37-7) has scored 163 goals this season. Only Phoenix (162) has fewer, and that’s only after the Islanders broke out for a 7-3 win over Martin Brodeur and Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey on Saturday.
In scoring their most goals since a 7-4 win over the rival New York Rangers on Dec. 3, 2006, the Islanders handed Brodeur his first loss since returning from an elbow injury Feb. 26.
“That doesn’t happen too often,” first-year coach Scott Gordon told the Islanders’ official Web site.
The victory improved the Islanders - last in the Eastern Conference - to 3-1-1 on their six-game homestand. New York has scored 19 goals during the stretch as it continues to play well on Long Island. The Islanders are 8-2-2 at Nassau Coliseum since losing four in a row there.
Sean Bergenheim recorded his first career hat trick Saturday to give him 14 goals on the season. Kyle Okposo added his 13th for the Islanders, who didn’t seem to be offensively lacking after trading leading goal-scorer Bill Guerin to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
New York’s depth will be further tested, though, after Trent Hunter (14 goals) suffered a season-ending ankle injury Saturday.
Bergenheim appears to have the ability to step up in the absence of Guerin and Hunter. The 25-year-old forward has seven goals in his last seven games, and also had one in the Islanders’ 5-4 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 2.
“Whatever (Bergenheim’s) eating, I want some of it,” said New York left wing Blake Comeau, who also had a goal Saturday. “He’s playing well for us lately.”
The Coyotes (28-32-5) lost 5-1 at Buffalo on Friday, their fourth defeat in five games. Phoenix has been outscored 15-6 during that span.
Matthew Lombardi scored his first goal for the Coyotes in his second game since they acquired him Wednesday from Calgary in exchange for Olli Jokinen. He had nine goals and 21 assists in 50 games with the Flames this season.
“The guys worked hard and we had some opportunities, we just couldn’t capitalize,” Lombardi told the Coyotes’ official Web site.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves in the loss to the Sabres. He stopped 33 shots in Phoenix’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Dec. 13, 2007 - its last visit to Long Island.
Shane Doan scored in the Coyotes’ win over the Islanders in January. Doan has 23 goals and 31 assists on the season - both team highs - but he has been held scoreless in his last four contests.