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Coyotes torch DiPietro, rout Islanders in season opener

Oct 6, 2006 - 4:49 AM GLENDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- Rick DiPietro endured a nightmare of an Opening Night. Fortunately for the New York Islanders, he has until 2021 to iron out the kinks.

In his first game since signing the longest contract in NHL history, DiPietro surrendered six goals in only two periods as the Islanders absorbed an ugly 6-3 defeat to the Phoenix Coyotes in the season opener for both clubs.

Ted Nolan's coaching debut with the Islanders simply could not have gone much worse. He watched his players constantly hang DiPietro out to dry and ultimately had to pull his franchise netminder after 40 agonizing minutes.

"You can't do too much about the goals that bounced off skates or (were scored on) the breakaway," Nolan said. "What we can do is correct the winning of loose pucks and compete. We just didn't compete the first two periods, and that is what happens."

Making matters worse was the fact that DiPietro already was under a microscope after signing a league-record 15-year contract worth $67.5 million on September 12. The top overall pick in 2000, DiPietro has shown a great deal of promise in his brief career but still entered Thursday with a career record below .500 and without a playoff series victory on his resume.

"What can you do?" DiPietro said. "It's a game, and obviously we would have liked to have played a better first couple of periods, especially in a season opener. Phoenix played well and capitalized on their chances."

Meanwhile, Coyotes second-year coach Wayne Gretzky was delighted with what he saw from his team. Steven Reinprecht had a goal and four assists, Ladislav Nagy tallied twice and captain Shane Doan had a goal and two assists as the top line dominated the contest in every facet.

"Shane has been a good leader for this group, and the whole line was really good tonight," Gretzky said. "They played unselfish and they played hard."

Nagy forged a 1-1 tie at 5:25 of the first period and defenseman Derek Morris scored just over four minutes later to give Phoenix the lead for good.

That sequence was merely an appetizer for a five-minute stretch of the second period, when the Coyotes scored four times to break open the game.

"That (stretch) was huge," Reinprecht said. "We were up 2-1 for a long time, but we couldn't get the next one. Then the floodgates opened in the second. We kept going and they kept going in."

Nagy made it 3-1 when the puck slipped off his stick, caromed off the skate of Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt and sneaked past DiPietro. Doan scored shortly thereafter off a nice touch pass from Reinprecht before rookie Joel Perrault tallied on a breakaway and Reinprecht cashed in on a 5-on-3 advantage to make it 6-1.

"That was the first time I played with Reinprecht, but he is a really good player," said Nagy, who missed the final 29 games of last season with a knee injury. "I have played with Shane for the last four seasons and I know where he wants to be, and he knows me. We have to play the same way Saturday and be a dominating line."

"What you saw is something we are capable of, so we must keep the standards high," added Phoenix goaltender Curtis Joseph, who made 26 saves.

Miroslav Satan scored the first goal of the game and Viktor Kozlov added a pair of third-period tallies for New York, which fell to 8-18-8 in season openers.

"We got some bad breaks and things went down south on us," said DiPietro, who made 26 saves before Mike Dunham stopped all 12 shots he faced in the third period. "You are going to have tough games like this. ... We are going to have three more tough games on this road trip, so we better bounce back, and bounce back in a hurry."






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