NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 9th (All times eastern)
New York Islanders (18-19-8) at Phoenix Coyotes (26-15-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to get back on the right track when they welcome the New York Islanders for tonight's interconference clash at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes, who are second in the Pacific Division and fourth in the West with 56 points, have lost three of their last four games after posting a 12-2-2 mark in their previous 16 contests. Phoenix edged Edmonton, 5-4, in overtime on Tuesday, but was shut out two days later in Vancouver.
Tonight, the Coyotes are back in the desert for the start of a six-game homestand, the club's longest residency of the season. Phoenix has a strong 16-6-1 as the host this year, but has lost its last two at Jobing.com Arena.
Alexandre Burrows notched a second consecutive hat trick and Roberto Luongo stopped 31 shots for his 50th career shutout to lead the Canucks to Thursday's 4-0 win over the Coyotes. It marked the third time this season that Phoenix has been blanked and the first time since November 23 in Edmonton.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped just 20-of-24 shots to fall to 23-12-4 on the season.
The Islanders had a two-game winning streak halted Friday in Dallas, but had to be happy about a familiar face returning to their lineup.
Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards each had a goal and an assist as the Stars took a 4-3 win over New York, but the big news was that oft-injured goaltender Rick DiPietro made his return for the Isles.
DiPietro, who made 24 saves in the start, had been rehabbing from knee surgery after appearing in just five games last season. The last time he appeared in a game was on January 2, 2009.
"I'm not going to lie, I was nervous," DiPietro said. "I got a chance to handle the puck a couple of times and ease my way back into it...We had some good chances at the end, we just couldn't sneak one by to tie it up."
Dwayne Roloson, who is 16-7-6 this year, will get the start in net for the Isles tonight.
Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist while Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen each lit the lamp for the Islanders.
New York is closing out a three-game road trip tonight and is 8-11-6 as the visiting team this season.
Tonight marks the first and only meeting this year between the Isles and Coyotes. The clubs split a pair of matchups in 2008-09 with each team winning a home game. New York has won two of three and three of five overall in the series, but has lost two straight in the desert.
01/09 10:50:46 ET