Avalanche-Islanders Preview

The Associated Press

The Colorado Avalanche are sputtering offensively on their trip against Metropolitan Division foes.

The last chance to shore up their offense before a 2 1/2-week layoff comes against one of the league's worst defensive teams.

Trying to avoid a third straight loss before the Olympic break, the Avalanche go for their first win at Nassau Coliseum in more than 15 years Saturday night against the New York Islanders, who are experiencing their own offensive problems.

After opening its East Coast trek with a 2-1 win over New Jersey on Monday, Colorado (36-16-5) followed with a 5-1 loss to the Rangers the next night and a 3-1 defeat to Philadelphia on Thursday. The Avalanche were 2:50 away from being shut out when rookie Nathan MacKinnon scored his 21st goal.

"Offensively we're going to have to find a way to score goals," coach Patrick Roy said. "On the trip we've got four goals in three games and it's not enough in this league to win on the road."

Colorado headed east thriving offensively, riding a three-game win streak in which it totaled 16 goals. Since the start of December, the Avalanche are 3-9-4 when scoring two goals or less compared to 14-1-1 when scoring at least three.

A game against the Islanders (22-29-8) could help Colorado get its offense back on track given that New York has allowed 195 goals - second-most in the league.

The Islanders have yielded an average of 3.6 goals in going 1-5-1 since Jan. 23, including five straight home losses, to fall well off the pace for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

New York's Evgeni Nabokov appeared in his fifth straight game Thursday against Calgary after missing 10 contests with a lower-body injury and stopped 18 of 21 shots in a 4-2 loss. He has a 1.94 goals-against average since returning.

While Nabokov is playing well, the Islanders have been sluggish offensively. They've tallied five goals in the last four games and are in an 0-for-30 drought on the power play.

"We have to simplify our game and just get better with execution," coach Jack Capuano said.

One bright spot for the Islanders is John Tavares ended a season-worst four-game stretch without a point by assisting on Calvin de Haan's goal in the third period Thursday that tied the score at 2. New York, which gave up the go-ahead score with 5:32 to play, allowed 22 shots for the second straight game after surrendering an average of 35.8 in its previous four contests.

"We seem to find more ways to lose than win," said Tavares, one of the league's leading scorers with 23 goals and 42 assists.

The Islanders won 2-1 in Colorado on Jan. 10 on Michael Grabner's overtime goal. New York has won five of six in the series, and six consecutive matchups in Long Island since a 2-1 loss Dec. 8, 1998.

Grabner, who has two goals in 13 games since the last meeting, has three goals in his last four versus Colorado.

Nabokov was injured for the last matchup and hasn't faced the Avalanche since helping lead San Jose past them in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. He is 14-5-2 with a 2.41 GAA and three shutouts against Colorado since 2005-06.

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