Looking for an improbable four points from road games in Vegas and Colorado, the Islanders at least scraped together a third point via a shootout loss to the Avalanche, in a game that will go down as a shutout for both goaltenders, Alexandar Georgiev (who gets the win) and Ilya Sorokin.
With Semyon Varlamov out injured and Sorokin slumping since reaching peak Vezina-candidate form, the Islanders really needed a strong night from the latter.
They got plenty of that, with Sorokin stopping 46 shots, including 19 in the third period.
It was a pretty good effort overall from the Islanders, though they started to kind of hang on for life for significant stretches of the third. Thankfully, Sorokin was there in that period and in overtime, and his only blemish was being beaten once in the shootout by a very good Evan Rodrigues double-deke.
Interesting Sequence: Makar declines the penalty
This one will go down in the memory book: Mathew Barzal pursued Cale Makar behind the net, and Makar blew a tire. The ref’s arm went up, and it seemed Makar was signaling that it wasn’t a penalty, and the ref put his arm back down:
A very unique sequence in Colorado.— Jonny Lazarus (@JLazzy23) December 20, 2022
Mat Barzal was being called for a trip on Cale Makar.
Makar signaled to the Referee that he fell on his own, causing the ref to change the call to no penalty.
Something I’ve never seen before. pic.twitter.com/S28IPJ5moE
Upon first review, I honestly thought Makar feared he was getting called for a dive, and was reacting to that, but apparently not:
Cale Makar confirms that he told the ref it wasn't a penalty. Says he felt guilty for doing it but also would've felt guilty for letting it slide.— Aarif Deen (@runwriteAarif) December 20, 2022
He says he apologized to teammates and "I don't plan to do that ever again."
Barzal on Makar's declined penalty: “I honestly didn’t even know he waived it off until I saw it after. I thought the ref just made the call. Obviously good sportsmanship on his part. I don’t know if I would have done the same to be honest with you. I’m glad they got it right.”— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) December 20, 2022
Starting with a Casey Cizikas faceoff win, the Isles had the puck for most of the first half of overtime, which led to a couple of good chances. Zach Parise set up J-G Pageau with a close tap-in chance at the net. Mathew Barzal set himself up for a great look from the slot...but he passed off to Anthony Beauvillier.
The Avalanche had the two most dangerous chances of overtime, however. J.T. Compher had a wide open net with Sorokin sprawling in desperation, but Compher sent the puck sky-high over the net. Then with the final seconds of OT winding down, Sorokin robbed Makar at the receiving end of a 2-on-1 setup, after Makar skated the length of the ice (and outraced Brock Nelson) after recovering from a Barzal check by the Avalanche goal line.
The shootout was a disappointment. Simon Holmstrom tried to make side-to-side move but lost the handle, Barzal tried to deke but got in too tight, and Anthony Beauvillier also lost the puck on his move, yielding not even a shot.
This was the fourth game of a five-game road stretch, but the next and final one will come after some home cooking. The Isles head back home before visiting the Rangers at the Garden on Thursday night.