The NY Islanders head to the Rockies tonight as they take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. It will be the fourth game of their five-game road trip.
After visiting Sin City and an injury-plagued Vegas Golden Knights team, the Islanders departed unlike most from the casinos - as winners. Dropping the previous four games, the Islanders finally found the win column again and the first victory of their road trip. The Isles got on the scoreboard first with Anders Lee's tenth of the year before Reilly Smith evened it up on the man advantage early in the second. After Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri were late scratches to the lineup, Hudson Fasching and Simon Hölmstrom found themselves lacing up the skates. Making the best of their opportunities, Fasching scored his second of the season, and Hölmstrom registered his first career goal. Brock Nelson and Zach Parise would add empty net goals to seal the 5-2 victory. Late in the third, Semyon Varlamov left the game for an unknown reason, with Ilya Sorokin closing the game out.
Like the Golden Knights, the Avalanche are fighting the injury bug with some big names missing significant time. The Avs were visited by the Nashville Predators on Saturday, sending the Preds back to lower Broadway with a 3-1 defeat. Miko Rantanen scored his 21st of the year, and Alex Newhook contributed his seventh goal as he has been filling in for the injured Nathan MacKinnon. Like the Isles, the Avs are sitting in the second wild card position.
When Colorado visited UBS Arena in late October, they looked ready to leave Long Island with two easy points as they got out to a 3-0 lead. The Isles appeared to be passengers in the game, unable to generate much at all on the offensive end. Noah Dobson cut the deficit to two with his third of the season, but the Isles still struggled to find their footing against the high-flying Avs. As the final stanza began, the Isles woke up as they looked like a different team, dominating the defending champs. Four goals in the third period, including the tying goal by Scott Mayfield and the leading goal by Anthony Beauviller just 17 seconds apart, nearly blew the roof off UBS Arena as an Isles team significantly outplayed early on was on the verge of victory. Nelson added the fifth straight goal for the Isles on the way to a 5-4 win.
Players to Watch
Through the season's quarter mark, Sorokin kept this team in games they may not have deserved to be in. As of late, he has struggled, allowing 15 goals in his previous four starts. With Varlamov possibly missing time, the Isles will go as Sorokin goes. He has proven to be one of the best goalies in the NHL and remains a candidate for the Vezina Trophy. He will need to return to form if this team has any hopes of clinging onto the playoffs.
Valeri Nichushkin was one of the Avalanche's best players on their run to the Stanley Cup Final and was rewarded with a new eight-year contract. Now healthy after recovering from an ankle issue, Nichushkin's role has increased with the absence of MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Nichushkin is a load to deal with, and with two undersized defensemen and the second change as they are on the road, it will be interesting to see how Lane Lambert tries to match up with the size of Nichushkin.