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Avs continue trip with a visit to Long Island

by John Kreiser

AVALANCHE (3-1-0) at ISLANDERS (1-1-2)


Season series -- It's the first of two meetings between the team this season; the Islanders visit Denver in January. New York won the last meeting, 3-2 in Denver on Jan. 6. The Avs are 0-5-0 on Long Island since a 2-1 victory on Dec. 8, 1998.

Big story -- The Avs, last in the West in 2008-09, surprised a lot of people last season by making the playoffs. Four games into the new season, they're showing that '09-10 was no fluke by winning three of their first four games, including a 3-2 victory at New Jersey on Friday. This is Colorado's second stop in a three-game swing through the New York area that concludes with a visit to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- Given the perspective of time, the best free-agent signing by any team in the summer of 2009 now looks like Colorado's move to grab goaltender Craig Anderson. He led them to the playoffs last season despite facing more shots than any goalie in the NHL, and he looks even better this season. Anderson outplayed Martin Brodeur on Friday, stopping 41 of 43 shots in the win at New Jersey.

"He seems like the kind of guy the more shots on him the better he plays," said T.J. Galiardi, who had a goal on Friday. "I think he's been that way for a while. It brings another element to your team when you can count on a goalie like that."

Islanders -- The Isles are giving it their all, even without three of their best players -- Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares, all of whom are injured. They overcame a 2-0 deficit and got a point in a 3-2 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Friday after a 2-1 loss at Washington on Wednesday. It was their first point in Pittsburgh in their last nine visits.

"It's been a long time since we've got a point in this building, which is certainly a huge plus for us -- especially when you're down 2-0 and not having anything going," coach Scott Gordon said.

Who's hot -- Colorado's Chris Stewart had a goal and an assist in the win at New Jersey, the second time he's done that in four games. Anderson has stopped 110 of 118 shots, a .932 save percentage. … Isles forward Blake Comeau, who finished strong last season, has 3 goals and 6 points in New York's first four games. He set up both goals Friday night.

Injury report -- The Avs are healthy except for center Peter Mueller, who hasn't played at all due to a concussion. .. Islanders forward Trent Hunter saw his ice time drop off in Friday's game due to a sore foot after he blocked a shot Wednesday. Streit and Okposo (shoulder surgery) are months from returning, but the Islanders might get Tavares (concussion) back. He hasn't played in a week. They will get back defenseman James Wisniewski, who was suspended for the games at Washington and Pittsburgh.

Stat pack -- The Avs are making their second three-game swing through the New York area in the last three seasons. They're already ahead of where they were on their last trip -- they became the sixth team to go 0-3-0 when they visited in late February-early March of 2009. ... The Islanders, who had only 49 power-play goals all last season, scored one on Friday and have six in their first four games.

Puck drop -- Line changes shouldn't be a big deal to an NHL team -- but someone forgot to tell the Islanders. They were called for a pair of too many men bench minors in the loss at Pittsburgh, giving them four in as many games -- no other team has more than two. Teams like the Islanders, who are scrapping for every goal and point, can't afford to be making these kinds of mistakes when they have so little room for error.

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