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At the Rink: Avalanche at Islanders

by John Kreiser / NHL.com

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche will face each other for the second time in 12 days when they step onto the ice Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum. The memory of the first game still stings the Islanders.

New York came to Pepsi Center on Oct. 30 to start a five-game road trip against a team that had struggled through the first three weeks of the season. The Islanders outshot Colorado 40-23 but were beaten 5-0, their biggest margin of defeat this season.

The Islanders are back at the Coliseum after the trip, which started with back-to-back losses against the Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, but finished with one-goal victories against the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Arizona Coyotes.

New York has to avoid a letdown in its first game back after a rare successful trip out West. Forward Matt Martin said the memory of the loss at Colorado should help.

"One way we can get up for this one is that we lost to them 5-0 to start our road trip. We got a little embarrassed in their building," he said after the morning skate. "Obviously, we want to give it back to them a little bit.

"We have to be ready to play. They're a fast team and they've got a lot of talent. We did just play them, so they're fresh in our minds."

The Islanders are 6-3-0 away from the Coliseum and have been one of the NHL's best road teams for the past two-plus seasons. But winning at home has been a struggle, and that's something captain John Tavares said has to change.

"We want to be good in our own building. We've had some big games here, but we've had games where we can be a lot better," he said. "It's about focusing on the task at hand tonight and making sure we're ready to play, ready to compete and have that high execution rate that we had on the road."

Defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who missed the game against Arizona with a knee injury, took the morning skate. Coach Jack Capuano said he'll be a game-time decision. If Boychuk can't go, Brian Strait will take his place as he did against the Coyotes.

Jaroslav Halak, who stopped all 19 shots he faced in the 1-0 victory against Arizona to get his first shutout with the Islanders, will start again. It's likely that backup Chad Johnson, who gave up all five goals in the loss to Colorado, will play one of the back-to-back games when the Islanders visit the Florida Panthers on Friday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Colorado's final visit to Nassau Coliseum is the second of a four-game road trip. The Avalanche fell behind by four goals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, then scored three times early in the third period but came up short in a 4-3 loss that dropped them to 4-7-5, including a 1-4-3 record away from home.

"I know it's early in the season, but we're well aware of the standings and we know how important it is to get on a roll," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said after the morning skate. "We're doing a lot of good things right now. Unfortunately for us, we don’t have much to show for it.

"Against the Flyers, we dominated the third period. They scored three power-play goals, but I thought we were very solid 5-on-5. I thought we had a lot of good chances; we just did not score."

Semyon Varlamov, who shut out the Islanders in Denver, is expected to start after Reto Berra played in each of the past two games.

The slow start by the Avalanche is a huge contrast to last season, when they came out of the gate fast and went on to finish first in the Central Division.

"The goal right now is to win games," forward Jarome Iginla said. "We've been in all these one-goal games, but we haven't gotten the results. Our power play needs to be better, we need to produce more goals. We all look at ourselves in situations like this, especially those close games where you can make a difference. There's definitely a sense of urgency, and we want to get things going."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Dennis Everberg

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Maxime Talbot

Nick Holden - Zach Redmond

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Daniel Briere

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Brad Stuart (hamstring), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

ISLANDERS

Nikolay Kulemin - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Cal Clutterbuck

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome

Cory Conacher - Casey CizikasMatt Martin

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk/Brian Strait

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan, Brian Strait

Injured: Josh Bailey (hand), Matt Carkner (back), Michael Grabner (lower body)

Status report: None of the four injured Colorado players is close to returning. … Bailey could return to the Islanders lineup this weekend from a broken hand. Boulton is being scratched after playing in the three wins out West.

Who's hot: Tanguay has goals in each of Colorado's past two games. Varlamov is 2-0-1 in his career against the Islanders. … Halak allowed two goals in the victories at Anaheim and Arizona.

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