Continuing on in their New York road trip the Colorado Avalanche visited the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum for a clash between two teams with 25 wins a piece and are near the top of their respective conferences.
Facing their long time former franchise goaltender in Semyon Varlamov the Avalanche knew they were going to get his best game and that exactly happened as Varlamov crafted a 32-save shutout in a 1-0 victory for the Islanders.
This began was a slow and methodical game between two good teams which favored the home side to begin. In the first period the Islanders controlled the play limiting the Avalanche to just five shots on goal to their 15. A couple futile power plays occurred for each side as well.
By the second frame the Avalanche started dictating their style a little bit more and found their legs. It appeared that the Avalanche struck first when Nikita Zadorov jumped up into the play and fired a the puck past Varlamov through a screen. The Islanders felt the play was offside around 20 seconds before the puck went in the net and challenged. Despite a lengthy review and hazy evidence the officials felt there was enough to overturn the goal as Andre Burakovsky appeared to enter the offensive zone before the puck which was 20 feet in the air. The game continued on scoreless.
Anders Lee finally officially broke the tie at 6:54 in the third period when he shot the puck past goaltender Pavel Francouz short side past his glove on a quick entry while the Avalanche were changing and may have deflected off of Ryan Graves in the process. In a tight game like this one that’s all it took to get an opportunity.
The Avalanche had one last power play and then a minute or so with the empty net to come up with the equalizer. Despite generating a couple chances including Gabe Landeskog with the puck at the post it was not happening tonight and ended 1-0 in favor of the Islanders.
- The Avalanche evened up the shot counter by the end of the game to 33-32 with the slight edge going to the Islanders. They also held 60.3% of the shot share, which was pretty consistent over the three periods. It was a pace they don’t prefer to play at but figured how to play their game through it and came down to not capitalizing on opportunities when loose pucks and rebounds presented themselves. Playing at the net front is one weakness the Avalanche possess year over year and this game was a good lesson to keep working at that.
- The power play once again let down the Avalanche as they produced no shots on their two opportunities. Getting power play goals in blowouts is keeping their man advantage ranking average but it usually isn’t able to capitalize when games are tight. Cale Makar had the best chance jumping up into the slot when the Islanders penalty killers overcommitted to covering Nathan MacKinnon and more type of such misdirection plays moving forward could help.
- Sam Girard was awarded the third star of the game by the Islanders media and they must have appreciated his defensive effort after being named the NHLPA player of the week with his eight points over the last three games. Obviously the point streak is now over but Girard continues eating a ton of minutes and the most of the team at even strength with 21:50 in this contest. Girard had 62% Corsi for and seven even strength shot attempts continuing his strong play as of late.
One last stop in New York to face the Rangers on a back-to-back Tuesday evening at 5:30pm MT on NBCSN.