November 15. That's the last time the Colorado Avalanche won a game at home. With the New York Islanders, a team that has struggled quite a bit themselves this season, in town, and the team's "bye week" beginning immediately after the game, tonight was a golden opportunity to get off the losing side of things and take the good feelings into a lengthy break.
Early on, the Avalanche looked how they have so rarely this year: inspired. They were flying all over the ice, creating shots and scoring chances at a clip the Isles were unable to keep up with. They even scored the first goal when Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen cycled the puck in the offensive zone to Gabriel Landeskog who found open space and blasted a slap shot past Isles goalie Thomas Greiss at 6:06 into the game.
With the 1-0 lead in tow, newcomer Matt Nieto made his presence felt, registering four shots on goal in the first period, the most notable of which was a penalty shot he drew after showcasing his impressive speed. Greiss was up to the task, however, and the game remained 1-0 heading into the second period.
Colorado's trademark lack of discipline reared its ugly head in the second period as the Avalanche took an impressive four penalties, three of which led to Islander power plays. The final two, on Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Zadorov, came just 44 seconds apart and led to a lengthy five-on-three for New York. With their bottom-tier penalty kill, the Avalanche failed to rise to the occasion and former Av Johnny Boychuk burned them with a slapshot from the point, tying the game at 1 heading into the third period.
The third period was a tight-checking affair that saw both teams put 11 shots on goal, including some very high-quality chances from the Avalanche, but to no avail and overtime was needed to settle this one.
And what an overtime it was. There were breakaways and odd-man rushes galore with the team's trading chances but ultimately a Calvin de Haan penalty in the extra period put the Avalanche on the power play. They actually capitalized on it when a Jarome Iginla shot was stopped by Nathan MacKinnon buried the rebound with 17 seconds remaining before they switched over the skills competition.
The Avalanche won, 2-1, and there was, finally, mercifully, joy in Mudville once again.
1. Calvin Pickard
2. Gabriel Landeskog
3. Thomas Greiss
PLAY OF THE GAME
MacKinnon's overtime goal gave the Avalanche their first win in 11 tries. The demon has gone to sleep.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Avalanche return to action after their "bye week" when they take on the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time.