In the Avalanche dressing room after the team's 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night, players walked around happily, giving man-hugs to one another and munching on pizza. Loud music played, barely above the decibel level of players' happy voices. This was not just another win, in other words. The Avs badly wanted to go into the long Olympic break feeling good about themselves, and one look into the dressing room answered whether or not that happened. Having survived a power play-fueled rally by the Islanders, the Avs notched the deserved win and now go into the break on an upbeat feeling, with 79 points and a playoff berth looking more and more likely with every victory. "I'm very proud of our players," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "After the game, I wished good luck to the guys who are going to the Olympics. Hopefully our guys are going to have a good 10 days off and come back ready to work. "But I'm proud of them. We've based our relationship on trust and respect, and that's exactly what we've had since the start of the season." Matt Duchene, battling a scoring slump, scored twice in the second period. The Avalanche also received goals from rookie Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Lande- skog and Paul Stastny. The Avs allowed 10 shots by the Islanders in the game's first four minutes but tightened their defensive gap between the forwards and defense and allowed only four during the second period. Duchene scored the 100th and 101st goals of his NHL career. They came against Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov at 7:49 and 10:33 of the second period, short-side shots from the right circle. Duchene's second goal came from deep in the circle on an almost impossible angle, and it proved to be the game-winner. "Obviously, it had been a while, so it was nice to get that," said Duchene, who now heads to Sochi to play for Team Canada. "It's nice to go into the break with a win. That's what's most important." Colorado's 3-0 lead with under 12 minutes remaining turned into 3-2, thanks to four separate minor penalties by the Avs less than four minutes apart. The Avs were faced with two 5-on-3 disadvantages and the Islanders took advantage on goals by John Tavares and Lubomir Visnovsky. The Islanders came within about 6 inches of tying the score against Avs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, on a shot that slid through the crease. But it stayed out, Landeskog added the empty-netter and another goal was awarded to Stastny after the game when it was ruled that Thomas Vanek threw his stick at the puck with two seconds left. Giguere played well, finishing with 30 saves, and won two games on the Avs' four-game road trip.
Avalanche pick up road win over N.Y. Islanders
Denver Post | Feb 9