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Islanders roll over Avs 5-2

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Milan Jurcina hasn't scored more than three goals in a season since 2006-07, when he had four with the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.

But the 6-foot-4 defenseman scored twice in the second period on Saturday night, while Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist as the New York Islanders cruised to a 5-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Five games into the season, the Islanders (2-1-2) find themselves in a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division with Pittsburgh despite being without their best defenseman (Mark Streit) and first-line forward Kyle Okposo. New York travels to Toronto to face the unbeaten Maple Leafs (4-0-0) on Monday night.

"I think they came to training camp with the idea that we are going to win," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "Enough's enough. It's time to play with confidence and know that what maybe other people don't know -- we've got more than just potential. We've got abilities."

After a scoreless first period, Jurcina scored his first goal as an Islander when he beat Craig Anderson shorthanded at 13:06 of the second. With Doug Weight in the penalty box, Josh Bailey's faceoff win in the Colorado zone went directly to Jurcina at the right point, and the hulking defenseman fired a low slap shot past the Avs' goaltender to give New York a 1-0 lead. It was the Isles' first shorthanded goal of the season.

"(Isles assistant coach) Dean Chynoweth joked with me that if that had missed the net, it probably would have gone around the rink twice," Gordon said. "His biggest thing is getting it on net. He knows he's got a hard shot. I've known him for a while, and there's no question he's got probably one of the hardest shots. He does have a bomb."

Jurcina then scored his second goal of the night, an unassisted tally with 1:59 left in the second. With the teams back at even strength, Jurcina fired a shot off the right boards that hit Anderson's stick and trickled through his pads to make it 2-0.

"It feels really good … I was struggling the last couple of years to put the puck in the net," said Jurcina, who scored once in 44 games last season between Washington and Columbus. "Whenever I have a chance, I just try to shoot it at the net. When you shoot it at the net, good things happen."

The Islanders managed to score again before the end of the period, as Bailey scored 59 seconds later on the power play. Just 29 seconds after Kyle Quincey was whistled for roughing, Bailey took a pass from PA Parenteau (two assists) and roofed a wrister over Anderson to make it 3-0. It was Bailey's third goal and seventh point of the season.

"We've been getting contributions all over the place," Bailey said.

Chris Stewart cut the Isles' lead to 3-1 when he ripped a slap shot from the right circle past Dwayne Roloson (28 saves) 2:19 into the third period, but Michael Grabner restored the three-goal edge when he finished off a 2-on-1 with Parenteau just 1:53 later. It was Grabner's first goal as an Islander.

The Avs, who won 3-2 at New Jersey on Friday, finish a five-game trip against the Rangers in New York on Monday.

"We started on time tonight, which we talked about," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "The second period, there were a few different sequences there that kind of built up ... next thing you know, we were down a couple. Things happen quick out there."

T.J. Galiardi made it a 4-2 game at 10:08 of the third period. With the teams at even strength, Galiardi swatted Mark Olver's rebound past Roloson for his second goal of the season. But Colorado wouldn't get any closer as the Isles won their sixth in a row against the Avs at the Nassau Coliseum.

"I thought we responded well in the third period, but we took too many costly penalties," said Stewart, who dropped the gloves with Zenon Konopka just five seconds into the game. "We definitely weren't surprised (by the Islanders). We went over their lineup before the game. We knew they had skilled forwards. They're a fast team with great goaltending. Their goalie made some great saves and they got a 3-0 lead. That's the hardest lead to come back from in hockey."

John Tavares (mild concussion) and James Wisniewski (suspension) both returned to New York's lineup. Trent Hunter was scratched with a foot injury suffered Friday night against the Penguins. Tavares scored an empty-net goal with 19.6 seconds remaining.

The Islanders now face a tough stretch, with 10 of their next 12 games on the road.

"If everybody keeps playing their roles, we're going to be a tough team to play against," Tavares said. "We're really going to make it tough on other teams -- from our first line to our fourth line."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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