UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene
had not scored in nine games coming into Saturday night. Sixty minutes on Long Island quickly changed that.
Duchene notched two goals in the second period as the Avalanche staved off a late New York Islanders
comeback in a 5-2 win, snapping a two-game losing streak.
"We kept our focus and we didn't get distracted by the Olympic break coming up," Duchene said. "We kept it together and we played a good hockey game."
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.
"I just tried to get a puck on net," Duchene said. "It hit him [Nabokov] in the chest and I was kind of mad that I couldn't pick a corner ... but I was able to find a hole."
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.
"It had been a really long time since my last goal," Duchene said. "It felt good to get that under my belt."
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.
"We took a penalty in the offensive zone and then a couple more that I think we'd like to have back," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. "But we remained pretty calm on the bench."
Islanders center John Tavares
pulled one back a minute into a 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.
"These are the kinds of efforts we need," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "And as a coaching staff, we have to get these consistent efforts from these guys right now."
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.
"It was a great play by Landeskog on the wall and we also had a great save at the end by Giguere," Roy said. "He touched it with his glove right at the end. It was a pretty big save for us."
Losers of six out of their last seven, the Islanders were a team inspired from the 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.
"Same old story," Capuano said. "We dominate the game, we have chance after chance -- and I mean some blue label chances -- and we have to give Colorado credit."
It was the Avalanche though, on their 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 came 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.|
"Seventy-nine points is something that we're very happy about, but not satisfied at the same time," Roy said. "Teams are playing well, it'll be a good challenge for us for the rest of the season."
NOTES: This was the last game either team will play until after the Winter Olympics 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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