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Sloppy Islanders fall to Coyotes, closing out awful trip

Islanders' John Tavares leaps over Phoenix Coyotes' Oliver

Islanders' John Tavares leaps over Phoenix Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson during the first period. (Dec. 12, 2013) Credit: AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Islanders wanted to use Tuesday's skid-breaking win in San Jose as a springboard to something better here Thursday night to close their five-game road trip.

But they ended up belly-flopping. Kevin Poulin tried to save his teammates for a second straight game, but the Isles abandoned their goaltender in a haze of turnovers, deflected shots into their own net and general sloppiness in their own zone.

The 6-3 loss to the Coyotes left the Isles 1-4-0 on the trip, 1-9-2 in their last 12 games and 1-11-0 in their last 12 on the road.

It was, like so many other Islanders losses during the past month, a competitive game until a lightning-fast meltdown, this one coming in a 3:41 stretch early in the second period. A 1-1 game became a 4-1 deficit thanks to an array of mistakes that Poulin, who was brilliant in stopping 16 of 17 first-period shots, was helpless to do anything about.

"We couldn't execute anything out of our own end, we were holding the puck too long, we lost positioning battles," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "A lot of that isn't structural, it's just winning your shift. We didn't do that."

The Coyotes took the lead for good when Rob Klinkhammer tossed the puck to an empty slot and Aaron Ness laid his stick out to block the pass and perfectly redirected it into his own net at 2:34 of the second.

Just 1:57 later, Phoenix made it 3-1 when a giveaway by Kyle Okposo led to a goal by Mikkel Boedker.

That goal prompted Capuano to call timeout and give his team the briefest of talks. "Wake up" seemed to be the message. It didn't get through.

A few minutes later, Mike Ribeiro roofed a shot past Poulin at 6:15 for a three-goal deficit.

"When it's a 6-3 final and your goalie is still your best player, it's a bad sign," Thomas Hickey said. "This one is on us. You can't have your goalie bailing you out all the time."

The Islanders did rally, however briefly. John Tavares' centering feed for Cal Clutterbuck went into the Coyotes' net off Zbynek Michalek's stick at 11:42. At 13:05, Okposo tipped Brian Strait's shot past Mike Smith, and the Isles were within a goal.

But a mistake by rookie defenseman Calvin de Haan stunted the comeback, leading to a second goal by Boedker at 18:59. The goal was the 50th the Islanders have allowed in the second period this season -- 13 in the five games of this ugly road trip.

"It's the breakdowns and mistakes we've been talking about," Tavares said. "There was a lot of sloppy play."

Klinkhammer scored again with 5:47 left in the game.

The Islanders were tied at 1-1 after a period, thanks to Poulin. Two nights after making 18 saves in a lopsided first period in San Jose, Poulin was even better Thursday night, making two glove stops on Ribeiro -- one while on his stomach -- that were incredible.

Eric Boulton, who hadn't scored a goal in more than three years before netting one in Philadelphia on Nov. 22, had a neat midair tip of Andrew MacDonald's shot go past Smith to open the scoring at 13:06, but the Coyotes tied it on a power play when Keith Yandle's shot ticked off Matt Martin's stick past Poulin at 14:34.

The Isles lost Casey Cizikas to a jaw injury early in the game. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.

New York Sports