The Colorado Avalanche came into tonight's home game against the visiting New York Islanders riding the high a of three-game winning streak obtained last weekend in a road trip the heart of the Central Division. Instead of allowing themselves to be deflated early on like they have so frequently at home, the Avalanche actually turned up the heat on the white-hot Isles in the first period.
Andreas Martinsen, fighting against multiple Isles defenders for possession, would get the puck back to Francois Beauchemin for a wrist shot that New York goaltender Thomas Greiss never saw to give Colorado the only goal of the first period just 3:48 into the game. The teams would trade power play chances and odd-man rushes but to no avail as Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov and Greiss shut the door heading into the second period.
The second period would continue to be more of the same for the Avalanche, who have struggled mightily all season in the second frame, and a lazy hooking on Mikhail Grigorenko would lead to a Brock Nelson power play goal at 4:55 to tie the game at 1-1.
A back-and-forth third period would see the deadlock broken by a goal only described as extremely lucky for the Avalanche as Beauchemin, standing behind the goal line in the corner, threw a puck in front of the net that hit off Isles forward Mikhail Grabovski and past Greiss to put Colorado ahead 2-1 with under four minutes to play.
A hearty Avalanche defense was up to the task of protecting the lead at the end and Varlamov shut the door, sending Colorado to their fourth consecutive win.
Only one choice for this one tonight as a 1-1 tie was broken late in the third period by Beauchemin's fluke goal.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"People were laughing at us when we were saying we were heading in the right direction but not winning those games." - Head Coach Patrick Roy
Colorado's win, combined with the loss of the Nashville Predators tonight, moves them within three points of the final playoff spot right now and stretches their lead over the Winnipeg Jets for sixth in the Central Division to three points. Even though the season is not even halfway over, seeing the Avalanche climb out of the significant hole they dug for themselves early in the season is nothing short of positive.
The Avalanche look to continue their winning ways as the Edmonton Oilers, whose six-game winning streak was ended tonight by the Chicago Blackhawks, visit Denver this Saturday, December 19. Puck drop is slated for 7:30PM MST.