After getting shutout in Ottawa, the New York Islanders needed a strong win to help boost confidence in their playoff push. Tonight, they delivered, scoring five goals against the struggling Colorado Avalanche. While this game seemed like an easy one on paper, the Islanders have disappointed in back to backs this season. However, after going down a goal early, the Isles rallied back for a decisive victory. The win tonight puts the Islanders one point out of a wild card spot currently held by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Islanders started off slow once again, with J-F Berube having to make a few saves early on. Despite his efforts, and a weak power play by the Isles, the Avalanche scored early when a Thomas Hickey turnover sent Joe Colborne in alone vs. Berube.
Shortly after, Nick Leddy tied the game with a shot that beat Calvin Pickard through a screen. One of the more talked about aspects of Doug Weight’s new voice in the locker room was his conversations with players, including Leddy, who Weight said had to be one of the best on the ice every game. Leddy’s performed well since, with 10 points in 12 games under Weight.
The Isles were beneficiaries of a 5 on 3 after Joe Colborne made a careless hit on Thomas Hickey and Fedor Tyutin delivered a stick to John Tavares’ face. On the two-man advantage, Johnny Boychuk took a shot that was saved, but the rebound found its way to Nick Leddy, who controlled it, passed it off to Tavares, who faked a shot and instead sent the puck cross-ice to a wide open Ryan Strome. Strome scored into the empty net for his ninth of the season.
Early in the period, Tavares made another great pass, finding Anders Lee near the crease and getting Pickard out of position for an easy shot into an open net, for Lee’s first of the night.
Then, the Avalanche started getting frustrated. Blake Comeau and Nikita Zadorov both delivered hits from behind on two Islanders, and Shane Prince and Ryan Strome stuck up for themselves and their teammates, each earning roughing penalties. The skirmish that ensued, however, ended with the Islanders earning a power play, where Lee scored his second of the night off a deflection.
Following that, Brock Nelson earned himself a semi-breakaway, getting to the net where his shot was stopped by Calvin Pickard. However, Pickard left a rebound that the trailing Jason Chimera was able to pick up, giving the Islanders their fifth goal of the night.
Berube played well, stopped 26 of 27 shots throughout the game. He made some big saves as well on a couple of chances by Colorado, including a big save late in the first period on John Mitchell.
Shane Prince left the game in the third after his scuffle with Blake Comeau and did not return. That’ll be something to watch for, and hopefully he isn’t seriously injured.
Next, the New York Islanders take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. This is another one of those very meaningful games, as a win in regulation would put the Isles into the second wild card spot ahead of the Leafs. The Eastern Conference playoff race is tight, and a win is critical in gaining ground on all the conference rivals competing for a spot.