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Tavares lifts Islanders, Poulin with overtime goal

by Rick Sadowski /
DENVER -- Two New York Islanders players who were toiling in the American Hockey League earlier this week put on big-time performances Saturday.

Center Jeremy Colliton, summoned from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday, scored two power-play goals and goalie Kevin Poulin, called up Tuesday, stopped 34 shots in his first NHL start in the Islanders' 4-3 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

 The Avalanche sent the game to overtime when Milan Hejduk scored his second goal of the game with four seconds remaining in regulation, but John Tavares saved the day for the Islanders by scoring with 1:08 to go in the extra period.

While the Islanders are on an 8-2-1 roll since dropping six games in a row, the Avalanche have gone 1-4-2 in their past seven home games and are in a 2-5-2 rut since winning six in succession.

"It means everything," Poulin, 20, said of pocketing his first NHL win. "That's why I play hockey, winning in the NHL."

Poulin, the Islanders' fifth-round pick in 2008, made his NHL debut Thursday in Edmonton when he stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief of Nathan Lawson in a 2-1 loss.

His fortunes changed considerably Saturday when Hejduk and David Koci scored for the Avalanche before the game was two minutes old.

"It looked like it was going to be a rough one," Poulin said. "But I kept focusing and we played as a team and stepped up our game after those two goals. I felt comfortable the whole game. The two quick goals, it's the NHL and it's going to happen."

His luck changed again when Hejduk beat him with a backhand shot during a scramble in front to send the game to overtime.

"I was pretty disappointed," Poulin said. "I didn't know how much time was left. Then I saw there were four seconds left. They made a good play. They crashed the net. (The puck) hit my shoulder and went in the net."

Tavares ensured Poulin's frustration wouldn't last. He skated from the side of the net, cut in front and scored on a power move against goalie Craig Anderson.

"I originally wanted to beat him on a wraparound, but he made a good poke check," Tavares said. "I made a peek over my shoulder and saw that he was more on my right side, so I just made a quick cutback and tried to use my body to get positioning toward the net."

Colliton, who had 1 goal in 42 previous NHL games, put the Islanders ahead 3-2 at 3:17 of the second period with his team's third power-play goal of the game. He took a pass from Josh Bailey and wired a shot over Anderson's glove from the slot.

"It means a lot," said Colliton, who converted a rebound at 5:52 of the first period to slice the Avalanche's lead to 2-1. "It's exciting to get the opportunity, first of all. I was able to get a bounce on the first goal and (Bailey) made a great play on the second goal. It's nice to be put in a position where you can do something."

The Avalanche didn't do much after grabbing a 2-0 lead in the opening 1:47 on goals by Hejduk and David Koci until the waning seconds of regulation with Anderson on the bench for a sixth attacker.

"We tried to buzz around there and put everything on net," said Hejduk, who hadn't scored in six games after missing seven games with a groin injury. "We were hoping for some rebounds or that something would go in. Fortunately enough, I got a pretty good juicy rebound at the end. Unfortunately, we were in a situation where we had to battle back. Probably we shouldn't be in that position, especially when we had a pretty good start.

"We had the momentum and all of a sudden we took some penalties and they scored every goal on the power play and the momentum was on their side most of the game."

The Islanders tied the game 2-2 on power-play goals by Colliton and Blake Comeau, who beat Anderson to the far side at 12:59 of the first period with a shot from the left circle.

The Avalanche, who killed 20 of 21 penalties in the previous five games, are still struggling with their power play. The Avalanche went 0-for-3 Saturday and have gone 1-for-19 with the man advantage in the past six games.

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