The thus far perfect Colorado Avalanche took their show back to the road and faced the New York Islanders to begin a three-game trip away from Ball Arena. On the line was their season-opening undefeated streak but also the NHL record for consecutive regular season road victories. While it wasn’t easy nor pretty at times the Avalanche did just that holding off New York in a 7-4 win.
It was a tale of two games as the Avalanche completely dominated the first period and had a 2-1 lead after the first 20 minutes of play with an 18-6 shot advantage as well. Ryan Johansen got the fun started with yet another power play tally at 5:19 doing what he does best parked in front of the net.
The Islanders did get one back from Cal Clutterbuck at 10:03 because the Avalanche did not execute their coverage well. But Cale Makar saved the period at 12:52 with an absolutely filthy backhand shot that Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin didn’t even make a move to save and that was the 2-1 advantage.
For the second frame the Islanders started slowing the game down and got a couple penalty calls to go their way and the game switched. Kyle Palmieri evened the score at 2:56 on a power play chance of their own, no Logan O’Connor shorties in this one, Unfortunately that led to momentum swing the way of the home team and they scored another with more bad coverage around the slot from Simon Holmstrom at 5:55. The Islanders were up to 16 shots in the period and had the Avalanche on their heels. But the visitors weren’t quite done yet.
After surviving yet another penalty the Avalanche used that successful kill to their advantage and put pressure on the Islanders. Bowen Byram then decided to remind everyone why he’s such a valuable asset to the team with his first goal of the season with 42 seconds to go in the period as his bar down laser of a shot tied the game. But that wasn't all as Nathan MacKinnon got a tally of his own just 13 second later and left a stunned Islanders squad down 4-3 heading into the second intermission.
The Islanders had one more push to open the third period when Anders Lee tied the game once again at 4:40 on a long range shot that eluded Alexandar Georgiev. But it was time for Mikko Rantanen to get on the board and he put the Avalanche ahead once again on a 2-on-1 on a great feed from Tomas Tatar at 7:47. Tatar opened the door again for New York while taking consecutive minor penalties on the same shift so the Islanders got a four-minute power play for one last chance.
The Avalanche stood strong and killed the lengthy penalty before scoring two empty net goals from Ryan Johansen and an Islanders own goal which was credited to Ross Colton to seal the deal. A 7-4 victory, a 6-0-0 record to begin the 2023-24 season and Colorado’s 15th consecutive regular season road win to set an NHL record were all achieved tonight.
In a win with seven goals scored there were a lot of standout performances but Mikko Rantanen’s four point night including his 300th career assist was a night to remember. Rantanen is also flirting with the NHL lead in points now with 12 and held it briefly on this evening.
Ryan Johansen has been exceptional on special teams including in defense of the empty net with an extra effort on the sixth goal to truly secure the win. He hasn’t quite found a fit at 5v5 though with some changing linemates and the team-lowest 34% Corsi For and 32% expected goals in this one. The lines in general are a work in progress and the third line with Jonathan Drouin, Miles Wood and Ross Colton, while effective, only saw 10 minutes of ice time in this contest.
Alexandar Georgiev may be wearing down a little as a few of the goals tonight given up were not the usual expected of the Avalanche netminder. But he also shut the door when it mattered the most and on the late third period penalty kills to earn his sixth win of the season. With the Avalanche backup situation still unsettled Georgiev will likely to see the bulk of the action in net.
The team travels on to face the Pittsburgh Penguins at 5 p.m. MT on Thursday, November 27th.