The Colorado Avalanche played one of their several matinee games today, as they hosted the surging New York Islanders.
Everything seemed to be going the Avs way, as it only took Milan Hejduk 45 seconds to score the first goal of the game. Then just a minute later, David Koci tipped a shot from Ryan O’Byrne, to make it a two goal game. A minute and forty five seconds into the game, the Avs were in control of the game and into the mind of rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin. Then three minutes later, the 28th ranked penalty-kill in the NHL was sent onto the ice and asked to kill a penalty.
This was the turning point of the game, as the Avs were unable to stop the Islanders from getting a power-play goal. Power-play goals ending up being the theme for this game, as three of the Islanders’ four goals came on the power-play. Another first period power-goal would be added to the count, and then a second period power-play goal would give the Islanders the lead.
Not to discredit the Avs, as they took control of the game in the third period and sent all that they could at Poulin, including the kitchen sink. However, the rookie net minder was standing on his head in the third and was frustrating the slumping Avs. That was until four seconds were left in the game. Avs goalie Craig Anderson was pulled for the sixth-skater, and Hejduk sent a shot past Poulin, to knot the game up at three. The goal came off an interesting play, where the puck hit an Islanders player in the face, landed near Hejduk, who shot the puck off of Poulin’s shoulder and into the net.
“We tried to buzz around there and put everything on net,” said Hejduk, who hadn’t scored since returning from the 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.
As all great rallies do, this game went into the overtime period, where the Avs have not gone to a shootout at home this season. To keep with that tradition, the game ended in overtime, but not in favor for the Avs. Islanders forward John Tavares drove hard to the Avs net, and as he attempted to come out in front from behind the net, Avs defenseman Matt Hunwick accidentally tipped the puck up and over Anderson.
In the end, what hurt the Avs the most was not the effort they put into the game, but the penalty-kill. Allowing a team to go three out of four on the power-play will always result in a loss. The Avs penalty-kill, which ranks 30th in the NHL on home ice, was the ultimate reason why they lost the game. Although they did end up with a point in the overtime loss, this game could have been completely different had the Islanders not been allowed three goals on the power-play.
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Written by Adam Lanning