Islanders end ‘power’ outage in Colorado
Score twice with man advantage in 4-1 win over Avalanche
Team captain Anders Lee referred to it as a “monkey,” but the New York Islanders’ collective power-play woes must have felt more like an 800-pound gorilla entering Monday night’s opener of a four-game road trip in Colorado.
Lee and Johnny Boychuk helped to lift that burden as both scored with the man advantage while Thomas Greiss made 30 big saves against the Avalanche’s high-powered offense, helping New York to a 4-1 victory in front of 18,007 fans at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“We got the monkey off our back [Saturday] night with [Mathew Barzal’s] goal, and tonight just executed and got pucks to the net,” Lee said after his team-leading 12th goal of the year gave the Isles a 3-1 advantage with 1:35 remaining in the second period.
Boychuk’s first goal of the season made it 2-0 early in the second stanza as New York scored multiple times with the man advantage for the first time in exactly one month.
The Isles also scored power-play goals in consecutive contests for the first time since Nov. 13-15, ending a stretch of futility that saw them manage just five special-teams tallies from Nov. 1 through last Wednesday in Las Vegas before potting three over the last two games.
“When Johnny shoots it like that, those are going to go in quite a bit,” Lee said of the veteran defenseman’s one-timer, which proved to be the game-winner.
“For us to get a couple [of power-play goals] is huge for us.”
Jordan Eberle and Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Isles, who were able to build on their 4-3 shootout win over Detroit at the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, giving them some renewed momentum heading into Tuesday night’s game in Phoenix.
“It was a team win,” Isles head coach Barry Trotz said after watching his team thwart four of five power play opportunities by the Avalanche, including a critical four-minute, double-minor hooking call on Josh Ho-Sang in the second period.
“If they score there, that could’ve been a game changer,” Trotz noted. “We actually got some momentum off of that.”
“It was a swing that could have gone either way,” Lee added. “Four minutes against this power play is a tough thing to ask for, and our boys did it.”
Gabriel Landeskog managed the only tally for Colorado, which entered the contest with the second-most power-play goals in the league (35) while ranking fourth overall in the league with 3.59 goals per game.
“It was huge to play really well against them,” Greiss said after limiting the Avalanche to one goal for only the fourth time this season.
Brock Nelson had an assist on Eberle’s seventh goal of the campaign at 18:20 of the opening period, but the veteran center left the ice in the second period after banging his knee against Colorado’s Ian Cole.
Defenseman Thomas Hickey was forced out of action moments earlier after sliding into the boards head-first.
Neither player’s status was updated following the contest and both may be missing when the Isles face the Coyotes Tuesday night in Phoenix.
New York will be shooting for its first three-game winning streak since reeling off a season-high five in a row from Oct. 27-Nov. 3.
“I liked the commitment and thought we checked pretty well,” added Trotz of Monday night’s impressive effort.
“Our special teams ended up being pretty good for us tonight. A majority of the guys were going. We played the right way for the most part.”
Isle Have Another: Boychuk’s goal was his first since March 30 of last season in Toronto, ending a personal drought of 34 games for the 34-year-old blue liner. “It’s nice to get one on the scoresheet,” Boychuk said. “There’s been a couple of times where I hit the crossbar, or [the] goalie makes a nice save. Nice to get the first one.” … Eberle’s tally was his first in 11 games dating back to Nov. 23. … Trotz likes what he sees from the previously struggling power-play unit. “It’s starting to give some confidence to the guys who are out there,” he said. “We made a couple of little changes and they are starting to feel it… We wanted it to be perfect, and now we’re starting to get a mindset of ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect, but let’s put pucks in play’ and then play off that.”
In local college sports action, the LIU-Brooklyn men’s basketball team suffered an 83-79 loss at Stony Brook last Wednesday, but not before senior forward Raiquan Clark made some history for the Downtown school.
Clark finished with 19 points, including the 1,000th of his career with the Blackbirds.
“Raiquan has established himself obviously as one of the better players in our conference, and for him to get his 1,000th point on the road in a game where I thought he played very well was nice,” said LIU head coach Derek Kellogg.
“I’m excited for him to try and build upon that. I think he’s really made himself into a very good basketball player, which is exciting to see.”
The Blackbirds (5-5) will try to climb back above .500 in non-conference play when they host Binghamton at the Steinberg Wellness Center on Friday night.