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Islanders Instant Takeaways: OT Loss To Avs Not The Biggest In Colorado



AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The New York Islanders fell to the Colorado Avalanche by a final of 5-4 in overtime at Ball Arena on Tuesday night.

Nathan MacKinnon scored the game-winner for Colorado on the power play 32 seconds into the extra frame. The Avalanche also had contributions from Devon Toews and Jonathan Drouin, plus two more from Valeri Nischushkin.

Pierre Engvall, Brock Nelson, Simon Holmstrom and Alexander Romanov all scored for the Islanders.

Semyon Varlamov started for New York but exited the game in discomfort after just 14:52 of action. Ilya Sorokin entered off the bench and stopped 23 of 27 shots the rest of the way.

Avalanche goalie Alexander Georgiev made saves 18 saves on 22 shots.

Varlamov wasn’t the only Islander to leave the game early. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo exited after appearing to injure his right leg and did not return.

The overtime loss is the Islanders’ league-leading 10th of the season. With 44 points, they sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 17-10-10.

But that’s just the box score. Here are the key takeaways from the night that was in Denver.

Varlamov and Bortuzzo Leave Early:

After a brief injury scare late last week, it was assumed goaltender Semyon Varlamov was back at full strength between the posts on Tuesday.

Turns out that wasn’t the case, as Varlamov left the game in discomfort late in the first period.

Later on, Robert Bortuzzo appeared to be in considerable pain after being checked by Colorado’s Samuel Girard in the second. He needed assistance to get off the ice and couldn’t put any weight on his right leg.

There is currently no update on the status of either Varlamov or Bortuzzo.

Defensive Breakdowns:

It’s a hard task to contain the Avalanche for a full 60 minutes. The Islanders seemed to until they didn’t.

They couldn’t completely shut the door on Colorado, who kept finding other entrances through holes in the Islander’s defensive structure.

The most glaring came in the final seconds of the third when Nischushkin ran through three Islander defenders to get to the net, forcing Scott Mayfield to take an untimely holding penalty, which MacKinnon capitalized on in overtime.

In total, the Avalanche outshot the Islanders 39-22 and dominated scoring chances 25-10.

Late Penalties:

Islanders head coach Lane Lambert was short and to the point when asked about a pair of penalties called on the Islanders late in the third period.

“Which one,” Lambert questioned. “There were a couple of them. I thought Mike Riley’s call was terrible. What more can you say? They call them and that’s the way it goes.”

The Islanders’ penalty kill was perfect through two periods against Colorado until an interference call on Reilly led to Nischushkin scoring his second goal of the night to tie the game at four all. The shorthanded unit finished the evening 2-5, ending a run of three straight games without allowing a power play goal.

Engvall Answers The Call:

After making Pierre Engvall a healthy scratch in their last game, Lambert had simple instructions for the forward as he put the forward back in the lineup against Colorado.

“I’m just looking for a response,” Lambert told media in Denver prior to the game. “I want him to use his speed in a northerly direction and compete for pucks one-on-one.”

Engvall clearly heeded Lambert’s words as he completed all three objectives on a single play early in the first.

Off an Avalanche turnover in the Islanders’ zone, Brock Nelson flipped the puck up the ice for Engvall, who was streaking up the penalty box boards. With only Samuel Girard to beat, Engvall charged toward Georgiev’s crease and slipped the puck through the goalie’s legs to put the Islanders on the board.

The goal was Engvall’s sixth of the season and put an end to a 10-game pointless streak.

Power Play Wakes Up:

The Islanders have had one of the NHL’s best man-advantage units this season. However, it’s gone cold recently without a power-play goal in the last six games.

The dry spell came to an end against the Avalanche when Brock Nelson converted on a Nathan MacKinnon roughing minor to put the Islanders in front 2-1 at the end of the first.

Nelson’s team-leading 17th goal of the season tied him with Bo Horvat for the most power-play goals on the team with five.

Converting on one of their three opportunities Tuesday, the Islanders’ power play is operating at a 23.3 percent clip this season,

Up Next:

The Islanders continue their road trip Thursday night against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullet Arena. Puck drop in the desert is scheduled for just past 9 p.m. EST.

Notes: With an assist on the goal by Alexander Romanov, Mathew Barzal now sits on the doorstep of a career milestone with 399 career points…Noah Dobson collected his 30th assist in just his 37th game of the season. Only two other defensemen in franchise history have done that: Dennis Potvin and Jeff Norton.




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