The Islanders comeback attempt fell short and the team limped into the Olympic break with a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Avs while Tyson Barrie added three assists. J.S. Giguere made 30 saves to earn the win for Colorado.
The Islanders trailed 3-0 after 40 minutes on the strength of a pair of second period goals by Duchene and Giguere’s excellent goaltending. In fact, the Isles had a 10-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first 7:37 of the game but couldn’t get on the board.
“If you go back and look at the chances we had during the first two periods,” a frustrated coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “We had some unbelievable chances. Give their goaltender credit. He played extremely well.”
Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring 13:04 into the game when he was left all alone for a rebound attempt just to the right of the crease. Then Duchene scored twice in the second period to increase the Colorado lead to 3-0.
In the third period, the Avalanche took a series of bad penalties that resulted in a pair of 5-on-3 power plays for the Isles. First John Tavares scored from the right circle at 11:17 to make it 3-1 Colorado. Then, Lubomir Visnosvky scored from the point 57 seconds later and the Islanders were suddenly trailing by just one goal with 7:46 remaining in the game.
The crowd was back in the game and the Islanders had the momentum, but Giguere closed the door, stopping 13 shots overall in the third period. Empty-net goals by Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny in the final minute closed out the scoring.
A frustrated John Tavares realized his team’s chances of reaching the postseason are getting slimmer with each passing loss. “It’s a tough go and it’s frustrating not getting to where we want to be,” Tavares said. “Clearly as each game goes by, the window gets smaller and smaller.”
Tavares is leaving for Sochi to represent Canada at the Olympics while teammates Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner will represent Austria. The rest of the Islanders will get some time off over the next couple of weeks. The team returns to action on February 27 when they host the Maple Leafs.
Duchene’s goals were the 100th and 101st of his NHL career.
Attendance was 15,360.
Travis Hamonic made his return to the Islanders lineup after missing the past 12 games with an upper-body injury.