Vejmelka makes 24 saves, Coyotes blank Islanders 2-0
NEW YORK (AP) — Karel Vejmelka made 24 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Arizona Coyotes beat the New York Islanders 2-0 on Thursday night.
Travis Boyd and Jack McBain scored in the third period as the Coyotes won their third straight to begin an NHL record-tying 14-game road trip.
“You’re seeing a team right now that’s willing to go to battle for each other, willing to play the right way for 60 minutes,” Boyd said. “Some people might be shocked by it, but we’ve got a lot of belief and we’ve got a lot of pride in our room. We come into every game wanting to win it no matter what the outside noise says.”
Ilya Sorokin stopped 26 shots for the Islanders, who lost for only the second time in nine games.
“The urgency, the commitment, the willingness to make the effort, it was a game for men,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “That was meant for big boys. They were hard on pucks, they were heavy and we battled hard.”
Boyd’s power-play goal early in the third from just outside the crease came off a beautiful pass from Clayton Keller. Arizona defenseman J.J. Moser also assisted.
Islanders forward Josh Bailey was in the box after taking a penalty late in the second.
McBain scored an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal it.
“We know how we want to play,” Vejmelka said. “This game was one of the best all season for us and this is the structure of how we want to play.”
Islanders forward Matt Martin almost tied it with a sharp-angled wrist shot that rang off the post three minutes after the Coyotes went ahead.
“Every time you lose a game, you need to end that quick,” Martin said. “We saw last year what happens when you start to lose multiple games in a row. It’s hard to find that confidence again, hard to get out of that rut. We’ve got to be a determined group on Saturday in our building and get a win before we head out to the road.”
Sorokin made consecutive saves on Nick Bjugstad midway through the second period to keep the game scoreless. Bjugstad fired a shot into the goaltender’s chest, which created an additional scoring opportunity that Sorokin snatched with his glove.
Sorokin shut out the Coyotes in both meetings between the teams last season.
“We had some chances early but weren’t able to capitalize,” Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson said. “They played a good game, blocked a lot of shots — tip your hat sometimes. Obviously, we can do some things better but they played well, too.”
New York center Casey Cizikas exited late in the third period after banging heads with a Coyotes player on a faceoff.
ON THE ROAD
Arizona’s road trip from Nov. 5-27 was scheduled to allow time for the Mullet Arena annex construction at Arizona State University. The team relocated to a 5,000-seat arena on the college campus while the franchise is seeking approval for a permanent home in Tempe, Arizona.
On the eve of Veterans Day, the Islanders honored the military by wearing camouflage jerseys during warmups that will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Islanders Children’s Foundation.
Coyotes: At the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Islanders: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
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