Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders, Barclays Center
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The New York Islanders monstrous team-effort against Philly has to continue against a desperate Coyotes group.

  • New York Islanders (43-25-7, 93 points)
  • Arizona Coyotes (36-32-7, 79 points)
  • 3 p.m. EST, MSG+, WRHU 88.7FM
  • Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

Matt Di Giacomo

The New York Islanders can’t afford anymore margin for error starting with this afternoon’s puck drop.

A late third-period rally led by Josh Bailey‘s pair of goals iced a spectacular team-effort that can’t afford to slip up.

The desperation Philly displayed will be matched by the Coyotes, who sit at the cusp of a Wild Card berth and their first post-season appearance since 2012.

For the Islanders to secure themselves two points closer to a post-season lock, they will need to strike early.

Darcy Kuemper is set to play his third game in nearly four days, and barring his exceptional performance against the Devils’ 32 shots (25th overall in goals-for), has not played exceptionally well in his last four games (.882 save percentage in last three games before NJD).

Catching Kuemper and a young Coyotes team off-guard in the opening frame will be a huge factor in setting the pace.

The Islanders are embracing coming together as a team and reflecting those results on the scoresheet.

Barry Trotz has helped instill a sense of calm on the bench versus how the conduct was in years past. Matt Martin told Andrew Gross of Newsday of the emotional control maintained behind the bench:

“I’ve been here in the past where we’ve had a pretty yappy bench, especially us as players,” said Martin, who has also played for Scott Gordon and Jack Capuano with the Islanders. “Referees didn’t like us too much. When things weren’t going well, we’d start bickering and bickering at each other, which is kind of your initial reaction when things aren’t going well, right?

“But Barry kind of tells us to shut the heck up,” Martin added. “He tells us we’re fine, stay calm. It just shows how much experience he has. He puts things in perspective for us and allows us to be more mature as a group and handle situations better to where we’re not letting the emotions ever get the best of us. We’re just trying to stick to the task.”

The Islanders last played the Coyotes on Dec. 18, a 3-1 victory for Robin Lehner, who made 36 saves and gets the start in goal once again after securing the victory for the Isles against Philly.

In yesterday’s post-game scrum, Barry Trotz said he was prepared to change the line combinations but opted to give them one final chance. Though he (naturally) revealed nothing yet, the smart money is on keeping the same lineup as Saturday.

If the Islanders manage to secure their two points this afternoon, they have a chance to retake the Metropolitan lead with a Capitals loss.

Fans keeping an eye on the out-of-town scores can check NBC Sports Network, where the Capitals currently have a 3-1 lead over the Flyers in the third period.

The Islanders get back to business at 3 p.m. ET on MSG+.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.