It seems like just yesterday the Colorado Avalanche played the New York Islanders but tonight was the rematch on Long Island in a game that unfolded much like the first meeting. Suddenly in the midst of a losing streak the Avalanche needed to get back to their winning ways and they did just that building a 5-1 third period lead which turned into a wild 5-4 finish in Colorado’s favor.
Special teams was the story of the game in the first period. Anders Lee got the Islanders on the board first on a power play. After a couple minutes of 4-on-4 the Avalanche got a make up call and finally cashed in on the man advantage when Cale Makar scored his 19th goal of the year at 14:18. With the tally Makar extends his point streak to now 12 games. The Avalanche started the period a little slow but ended with 20 shots on goal and six of them from Nathan MacKinnon.
The second period was a more even affair with neither team scoring but the Avalanche still had flurries in the offensive zone and managed to put up 14 shots on goal in that frame alone. Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was the difference standing tall and looking very dialed in.
What was a tight 1-1 game tuned into a wild back and forth goal explosion in the third period, The Avalanche first broke the tie at 4:06 after Varlamov absolutely robbed Rantanen but after a mad scramble at the net front MacKinnon found the back of the net through a mass of bodies.
Through the next four minutes the Avalanche added three more goals to blow the game wide open and a 5-1 score in their favor. JT Compher took a fantastic no-look pass from Alex Newhook after Logan O’Connor won a puck battle in what was a perfectly executed play from Colorado’s third line to give the team the first insurance marker. Makar scored his 20th goal on a great feed from MacKinnon and then Devon Toews put in the dagger against his old club on his 12th goal on the season.
The Islanders didn’t go down without a fight, however. They executed their own barrage of goals starting with Lee again on the power play at 11:58 and then Casey Cizikas just over a minute later. Brock Nelson added the fourth Islanders goal with the extra attacker with 30 seconds to go but they could not find the tying goal in the dying seconds and ended in a 5-4 Avalanche final.
Despite the inflated score both goaltenders played very well in Semyon Varlamov and Pavel Francouz. Both deserved better from the teams in front of them and the two netminder deserve more credit for what they bring to their teams in net. Francouz won’t get to pad his .923 save percentage with this game in how it unfolded late but should be looked at as starter quality option for the Avalanche moving forward.
Cale Makar was electric and a difference maker in this one. He ended up with two goals and an assist, eight shots on goal and off the charts in all analytic categories. If the goals gave him confidence to turn up the aggression then look out NHL because when Makar is turned up to 11 he can make a lot of magic happen. Make could have had a hat trick this evening but that will be the story for another day.
The Avalanche lost Andre Burakovsky in the third period after he absorbed a shot to the foot. Head coach Jared Bednar said after the game x-rays were negative so it is a day-to-day situation moving forward.
Second half of a back-to-back tomorrow night in New Jersey at 5pm MT.