GLENDALE, Ariz. — Nick Leddy still is stuck on zero goals, the only Islanders regular without one this season. He’s certainly gotten close of late, with Brock Nelson “stealing” a Leddy goal with a nearly undetected deflection in Philadelphia on Dec. 8 and Leddy ripping one off the crossbar in Denver on Thursday night.
The numbers say Leddy will get one shortly. He put 14 shots on goal in his last five games before Saturday night’s game against the Coyotes, and that was his total number of shots on goal in his first 16 games this season.
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Being the lone defenseman on the Isles’ top power-play unit has made Leddy, a pass-first player most of the time, more comfortable about firing away on goal.
“I’ve certainly changed a bit to be more of a shoot-first guy out there,” Leddy said. “We have a lot of skilled guys on both units, but obviously a huge part of power-play success is getting pucks to the net, so you have to focus on that at the point.”
Leddy has never been a prolific goal-scorer from his defense position. He had 10 goals last season, the only time he’s hit double-digits in five NHL seasons. And despite a minus-5 rating entering Saturday night’s game, he’s been playing far better in the last 10 to 15 games than he was when he started the season a bit hesitantly.
“If I keep creating opportunities,’’ he said, “I have to think one or two will go in.”
Bernier back in
Steve Bernier took Kyle Okposo’s spot in the lineup on Saturday night. Bernier skated with Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski to open the game.
Coyotes rookie goalie Louis Domingue made his first start of the season and ninth NHL appearance. Anders Lindback started for the Coyotes on Thursday, when they dropped a 7-5 decision to the Blue Jackets.
Forward Kirill Petrov was a healthy scratch for Bridgeport on Saturday. The 2008 Islanders draft pick appears certain to leave for Russia as early as Monday.