Losing their last two games, the Colorado Avalanche looked to rebound on their east coast road trip on Saturday against the New York Islanders. Enduring both a slow start and late-game penalty trouble; the Avalanche got an Olympic effort from a few individuals for a 5-2 win.
Matt Duchene snapped out of his goal scoring slump with two tallies in the second period to put the Avs up 3-0. Prior to the contest, Duchene had only scored once in his last 22 games, 15 of which came after being named to the Canadian Olympic team. On the first goal, he used his speed to get around Isles forward Brock Nelson, shot, then banged the rebound past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov for the 100th tally of his young career.
The Avalanche took four penalties in under four minutes in the third period; allowing the Islanders back into the contest with two five-on-three tallies. Duchene’s Canadian Olympic teammate Jonathan Tavares put the first past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Lubomir Visnovsky scored less than a minute later to close the gap to one. Also assisting on the tally by Tavares, Visnovsky was originally set to play for Slovakia in the Olympics, but pulled out earlier in the day as he continued to recover from a concussion.
Giguere was able to hold strong the rest of the way, finishing the contest with 30 saves, only surrendering goals when the team was faced with the tall task of being down two skaters.
Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny each added an empty net goal as the game’s final minute waned down. Stastny did not actually put the puck into the Islander net. Exposing an odd NHL rule, Stastny scored when an Islander player threw his stick at the puck. Typically this would have awarded Stastny a penalty shot; but as the Islander goaltender was pulled, he was simply awarded a goal instead. Both Stastny (USA) and Landeskog (Sweden) will also head to Sochi for the Olympics.
Russian Olympian Semyon Varlamov got the night off, serving as backup to Giguere. All four of the Olympians were honored along with the Islanders players heading to Sochi (Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek will both play for Austria, Tavares for Canada) in a pregame ceremony.