The NY Islanders were handed their first regulation loss of the season against the Buffalo Sabres on the road in a 3-1 contest. It should have been a shutout for Eric Comrie, but Noah Dobson found the back of the net for the Isles with 1:21 left in the third period to spoil it for the 28-year-old journeyman. He stopped 24 of 25 shots, while Semyon Varlamov faced 43 shots and stopped 40 in his first start of the season. A solid start for Varlamov to begin the campaign, but the team in front of him provided no help.
The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a high-scoring 6-4 win at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Logan O'Connor remarkably scored his third shorthanded goal of the season right before the Avs scored four unanswered goals after going down 3-2. Artturi Lehkonen, Ryan Johansen, Frederik Olofsson, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen all scored in the win. Lehkonen was their highest scorer of the affair with one goal and three assists, while former New York Ranger Alexandar Georgiev made 23 saves in goal for Colorado.
Arguably, the most thrilling win from New York's regular season last year came almost one year ago today when the Avalanche came to UBS Arena. Colorado went up 3-0 in the second period, but the Isles stormed back by scoring five unanswered goals to win 5-4. Brock Nelson's empty netter to make the score 5-3 stood as the game-winner. Their second and final match of 2022-23 was anything but as exciting in Denver. The Avalanche and Islanders skated to a scoreless tie after 65 minutes of play, and it's pretty easy to guess who took the win in the shootout. Ilya Sorokin made 46 saves in the eventual loss, while Georgiev made 26 saves, including stopping all three Islanders' shooters in the skill competition.
Players to Watch
Noah Dobson will have a hard time being the best number 8 on the ice tonight, but he's been decent to start the 2023-24 season. The former 12th overall pick has three points in the Isles' first four games this season and averages the most ice time per game on the team by far at 23:32. The power play has not shown much improvement since a brutal 2022-23 showing, and Dobson's skillset implies that he should be a strong power play quarterback. The Islanders will need to score a decent amount if they want to beat the Avalanche tonight, and Dobson needs to be a big part of that.
On the other side, Colorado's number 8, Cale Makar, is a step above every other defenseman playing in the league and is one of the most accomplished ever at his position given his age of 24. Makar won the NCAA's Hobey Baker Award while playing at UMass Amherst, the Calder Trophy, the Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup, and a Conn Smythe Trophy - and it's only just the start. The former 4th overall pick is as fast and skilled as any forward in the league, along with being stout defensively. Makar has two goals and four assists in Colorado's five games this season and will look to continue that and help the Avs get to 6-0-0 on the season against New York.
Anders Lee - Bo Horvat - Mat Barzal
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom - JG Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech - Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov - Ryan Pulock
Samuel Bolduc - Sebastian Aho
Artturi Lehkonen - Nathan MacKinnon - Valeri Nichushkin
Tomas Tatar - Ryan Johansen - Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood - Ross Colton - Jonathan Drouin
Andrew Cogliano - Frederik Olofsson - Logan O'Connor
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Bowen Byram - Samuel Girard
Jack Johnson - Josh Manson