UNIONDALE, N.Y.--The Colorado Avalanche was prepared for a tight affair going into Monday night's matchup with the New York Islanders, and the outing lived to its billing.
Back-and-forth play dominated the evening, and there were few dangerous scoring chances for either sides through the first 40-plus minutes of play. That was until New York got the break to unknot a scoreless tie.
Anders Lee's shot at 6:34 of the third period ended up being the only puck that found the back of the net in the evening, as it deflected off the Avs' Ryan Graves and past goaltender Pavel Francouz to give the Islanders a 1-0 win at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum.
"I think we had our chances, some of weird bounces, some didn't go in for us," Graves said. "Their goal hit me on the way in, so lucky bounce in that sense. Tight game, but sometimes you have to look at the process and we played a pretty good game I thought."
New York's defense made it difficult for the Avs to rush up the ice throughout the outing. The pace of play slowed, and the neutral zone became the area where the most action occurred for both teams.
Things didn't get any easier once Colorado was able to cross the blue line and get the puck into offensive end. The Avalanche had 83 shot attempts in the game but 33 were blocked and another 18 missed wide.
"The one of the things they did tonight was they did a nice job of blocking our point shots," said head coach Jared Bednar. "We had a lot of opportunities and a lot of shot attempts from the point, we didn't get a whole lot through to the net. Their wingers did a really nice job coming out to our guys and getting into our shooting lanes. Maybe we were looking for something better there and could have shot a little quicker, but that is the way it goes. Some of the pucks we got through to the net, there were some rebound opportunities that we were going to and we just weren't able to get it by [Semyon Varlamov]."
The Avalanche made adjustments at the intermission to manage the puck better, decreasing turnovers and increasing time un the Isles' end. The squad went on to outshoot New York 27-18 in the final two stanzas and finished with 32 more shot attempts in the game.
The Avalanche made adjustments at the intermission to manage the puck better, decreasing turnovers and increasing time un the Isles' end. The squad went on to outshoot New York 27-18 in the final two stanzas.
"I don't think we closed plays early enough off the rush or arriving in D-zone coverage," Bednar said. "We got quicker and more competitive at the point of the puck in the second period. Things started to turn in our favor, we started to generate a little more O-zone time."
Despite the amount of shots, the pucks didn't find twine for the Avs as Varlamov and the Islanders defense stymied the high-quality opportunities that were finally created.
"Varly was good in their net, Frankie was good in our net," Bednar said. "They controlled the play in the first, we controlled the play in the second. Tough to create scoring chances and when you had them you just need someone to capitalize on one. They did it once, and we weren't able to."
The Avalanche did get a puck past Varlamov in the game, but the goal ended up being erased for offside after New York won a coach's challenge.
Nikita Zadorov tallied on a one-touch wrister at 13:51 of the second period, but it was eventually overruled as the on-ice officials determined that Andre Burakovsky was in the offensive end before the puck.
"When it happened, I felt like the puck was past me and I felt like was on the right side," Burakovsky said postgame. "It's a tough call for the linesmen to judge that. That was unfortunate."
It took several minutes for the officials to reverse the goal call, but there was a video replay angle where it appeared that Burakovsky had completely crossed the blue line while the black puck was flying in the air with a dark background. It was a tough call to make, but Bednar ultimately agreed it was the correct one.
"I think they made the right call," Bednar said. "It's tough to tell, it's up in the air, but I think we were in ahead of it."
TO THE CITY
The Avs wrap up their three-game road trip in the New York City area on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.
It is the second half of Colorado eighth back-to-back of the season and its first matchup of the year against the Blueshirts. Bednar said after the loss to the Islanders that he is looking for his club to get back to its offensive game while also keeping with the strong defensive elements it has played with recently.
"You have a tough time generating scoring chances on both sides of it tonight, and the offensive part kind of lets us down, but I liked the way we checked and I liked the way we protected the net front," Bednar said of the loss on Long Island. "We got to take that into tomorrow and find our groove on the offensive side of things a little better than we did tonight."
Philipp Grubauer is expected to be the goalie that will start the game for Colorado at MSG.