For the second time in this young season, the Islanders faced a high-flying offense and just about hung with them goal for goal, though this time there was no overtime and no consolation point.
The Isles trailed 5-4 in the waning minutes before the Colorado Avalanche added two empty-net goals — one self-inflicted — for a 7-4 final.
So the final score implies a blowout that never was. The Isles never trailed by more than a goal until they pulled Ilya Sorokin for a sixth attacker. Things could’ve gotten away from them in the first but for Sorokin, as they were outshot 17-6, but they responded with a much better effort in the middle period.
The Islanders even had an all-too-brief lead early in the second on Simon Holmstrom’s first of the season, but trailed entering the second intermission thanks to two gut-punching late goals 11 seconds apart.
Anders Lee tied it at 4-4 early in the third period, but the Isles fell behind again three minutes later, never to catch up again. They had a four-minute power play after Kyle Palmieri was high-sticked, but Mat Barzal was called for boarding to interrupt that enticing opportunity.
One of the two new line combos didn’t last through the first period: Oliver Wahlstrom, who had some nice shots on the power play, was dropped from his new combo with J-G Pageau and Holmstrom while Cal Clutterbuck took his place, breaking up the Identity Line in the process.
- Holmstrom got on the board with a nice, quick release and high shot from the slot off a feed from Clutterbuck. That’s the shot we’ve seen him tease a time or two, so perhaps a good sign there.
- Holmstrom was also a factor on Clutterbuck’s goal, taking up residence in front of the net as the Isles worked the puck around and providing a screen for Clutterbuck’s backdoor tip of Noah Dobson’s shot.
- The returnee to the top line, captain Anders Lee, netted his first — though it was all individual effort, working to keep the puck in the zone twice, then shooting from high in the slot to beat Alexandar Georgiev.
- A power play goal (?!): Yes, the Isles got one. Kyle Palmieri tied it at 2-2 after the Isles recovered a rebound and worked the puck around well, shifting to open up some space for Palmieri down low. The next few power plays were not as compelling.
- Ryan Johansen opened scoring with an early power play goal, and also got the first empty netter. Blame this one on Barry Trotz, who basically gave Johansen away as he cleared out salary after taking over in Nashville. A big favor to the recent Cup champs.
The Islanders stay home, hosting the Senators on Thursday.