A bad bounce was the difference in the New York Islanders 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
Tied 1-1 late, Francois Beauchemin threw the puck on the net from the corner and in a worst-case scenario, deflected it off Mikhail Grabovski and past Thomas Greiss. The goal, Beauchemin’s second, came with 3:48 to play, late enough to be a backbreaker in a game characterized by good goaltending.
“We did some good things, but not enough,” Brock Nelson, the Islanders’ goal scorer said. “It’s a tough bounce pretty late in the game, we didn’t really have a lot of time [to get it back].”
Both Greiss (28 saves) and Semyon Varlamov (33 saves), entered Thursday’s game on the heels of a shutout and continued their strong play. The goalies stopped everything they saw, with the other two goals coming on heavily-screened shots.
“I thought we had some good chances and [Varlamov] made some big saves,” Capuano said. “Give Varlamov credit, he’s obviously been playing well for these guys in the last two or three weeks. You have to find a way to score more than one goal a game if you’re going to have a chance.”
The Islanders appeared to need time to adjust to the high altitude, as a defensive miscue led to Colorado scoring early. After a missed breakout, Beauchemin beat Greiss with a long-range wrister through traffic at 3:48.
The Islanders had another close call on an Avs 3-on-1, but found their legs shortly after. The Islanders wound up outshooting the Avalanche 14-7 in the opening frame, including a 7-0 run in the back half of the period.
The momentum carried over to the second period, as the Islanders continued to retain possession and pepper Varlamov with shots. With Mikhail Grigorenko in the penalty box, Nelson tied the score, snapping a wrist shot through Anders Lee’s screen and by Varlamov’s glove at 4:55. The goal was Nelson’s 11th of the season and extended his point streak to three games (2G, 1A).
“It was a really good screen,” Nelson said. “It was a good job by Anders, occupying one of the D and took away [Varlamov’s] eyes. Maybe we weren’t able to do enough of that.”
The teams traded chances in the third period, but the goalies game up big again. Greiss made a blocker save on an Erik Johnson shot off the rush, while Varlamov was aggressive, challenging and stopping Matt Martin and Nelson with a pair of blocker saves of his own.
The Islanders did have a power play with 8:51 to play in the third, but were unable to cash in, much to the chagrin of Capuano.
“We had a power play with their too many men on the ice call and we didn’t muster a shot,” Capuano said. “We were right there and playing pretty well, but at the end of the day, that power play could have been the difference for us.”
While the power play finished 1/5, the penalty kill was a perfect 2/2, now 26/26 in the Islanders last 11 games.
The loss was the Islanders second straight defeat, but they look to stop the streak on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes. Puck drop is at 9 p.m. eastern time.
Lee and Nelson Postgame