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Avalanche 5, Islanders 2

The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, NY-- Center Matt Duchene's two quick second-period goals proved just enough for the Colorado Avalanche as they snapped a two-game losing streak, holding off a New York Islanders third-period comeback in a 5-2 win Saturday night.

Duchene's goals came just three minutes apart midway through the second period. With his side already up one, Duchene notched his 18th of the season basically on his own. After the Islanders could not convert a 2-on-1 chance, Duchene blazed down the right side, taking on two defenders before firing wrist shot that trickled through Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov eight minutes into the second period.

Duchene's second goal of the game and 19th of the season came on the power play at 10:33 of the second. From just inside the right face-off circle, Duchene's tough-angled shot beat Nabokov over his left shoulder and snuck in just beneath the crossbar to put the visitors ahead 3-0.

Midway through the third period, penalties began to unwind the Avalanche's healthy lead. Sending three men to the box in two minutes, Colorado left the door open for a struggling Islanders offense.

Islanders center John Tavares pulled one back a minute into 5-on-3 power play with 8:53 left in the game to snap an 0-for-33 drought on the power play.

Just seconds later, the Islanders were back to a two-man advantage thanks to defenseman Erik Johnson's slashing infraction. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky cut the Islanders' deficit to one with 7:46 to play on the ensuing power play.

Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog added an empty-netter with 46 seconds left and center Paul Stastny added a second empty-netter in the closing seconds to seal Colorado's win, however.

Losers of six out of their last seven, the Islanders were a team inspired from start, outshooting the Avalanche 10-1 in the game's first 10 minutes. Despite being tested early and often, Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere was sharp, keeping New York off the scoreboard during the early flurry.

It was the Avalanche though, on its fourth shot of the night, 13 minutes into the first period, that got the scoring started when Landeskog's rush to the front of the net was stymied by Nabokov and the rebound coming out to rookie center Nathan MacKinnon. As Landeskog was pushed by a defender into the crease, knocking Nabokov out of the play, the 18-year-old MacKinnon had an open net from a tough angle on the left side to convert for his 22nd goal of the season.

NOTES: This will be the last game either team will play before the start of the Olympic break. The Islanders have three players participating for their country while the Avalanche will send four to Sochi. ... The Islanders have lost six of their last seven games and are stranded 12 points off the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. ... Islanders C John Tavares, who entered the game second in the NHL with 65 points, 13 behind Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby, scored a second-period goal to add to hit total. The Avalanche are exceeding expectations with coach Patrick Roy this season. Using a hot start as a springboard, Colorado is fifth in the Western Conference with 77 points.
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