Islanders-Coyotes Preview

The Associated Press

Scoring goals has been a problem all season for the Phoenix Coyotes. The New York Islanders are in no position to offer any sympathy in that department.

Two of the league's weakest offenses will be on display Saturday night when the Islanders close a three-game road trip against the struggling Coyotes.

Phoenix (19-17-5) ranks near the bottom of the NHL with 101 goals while the Islanders (14-18-6) are next-to-last with 87. Offensive woes have contributed to the Coyotes losing six of their last seven games (1-4-2), but New York has been better lately with 12 goals during a 3-1-0 stretch.

This is the only home game for Phoenix in an eight-game span, but even playing at Arena hasn't helped the team's offense. The Coyotes are 1-4-1 in their last six at home, scoring two goals or fewer in five of those games.

"We know our home record is unacceptable and we're looking to turn that around and it all starts (Saturday)," center Kyle Chipchura told the team's official website.

The road also proved a difficult place for Phoenix to score Thursday, when it failed to solve Jonathan Quick in a 1-0 overtime loss at Los Angeles. The Coyotes were shut out for the fifth time - second-most in the NHL behind the Islanders (7).

"We're happy with the point but we've got to find ways to win those games," goaltender Mike Smith said. "We can't hang our heads. We played hard. We just didn't come out on top."

Smith likely will make his third straight start after missing six games with a groin injury. He has won both of his career games against the Islanders, stopping 66 of 68 shots in a pair of victories for Tampa Bay in December 2009.

Already missing centers Boyd Gordon and Martin Hanzal, the Coyotes will also be without defenseman Adrian Aucoin on Saturday. Aucoin sat out the last two periods Thursday after he was struck in the right eye by a puck.

Shane Doan has gone six games without a point, matching his longest drought of the season. The Coyotes captain has three goals and five assists in his last six games against New York.

This is the final stop on a three-game trip for the Islanders (14-18-6), who were denied a season-high fourth straight win with Friday's 4-2 loss to Anaheim. Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin scored for New York, which gave up three unanswered third-period goals.

"We did a good job for two periods, frustrating them and kind of letting them sleep," Martin said. "But then we gave them too much time and space (with the puck) in the third period and kind of let them build momentum for themselves.''

Evgeni Nabokov allowed four goals on 20 shots in a shaky performance, but is likely to start his eighth straight game with rookie Anders Nilsson serving as backup. Nabokov is 13-2-2 with a 1.74 goals-against average and five shutouts in his last 19 starts - all with San Jose - against the Coyotes.

New York's line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Okposo has combined for six goals and 11 assists in four games since it was formed.

The Islanders are 2-0-1 in the last three meetings in this series, winning their last trip to Phoenix in a shootout Jan. 9, 2010. The Coyotes returned the favor with a shootout victory at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 18, 2010.

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