Clean-Up on Isle 5! Avalanche Shutout Islanders 5-0 and MacKinnon Scores!


Final. 5. 103. 0. 106

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the New York Islanders 5-0 on Thursday night, to improve to 3-4-3 on the season, and finish what has been a sour month of October on a sweet note. Whoa, now I’m craving some Halloween candy. The Islanders entered the contest as the second highest scoring team in the NHL, with an average of 3.78 goals per game, but it was the Avalanche who were throwing treats into the basket tonight. The Isles fall to 6-4-0 on the young season.

The game started off with a bang for the Avalanche, as the fourth line had their best shift of the season. They won a defensive zone draw, exited their own zone, and applied some significant pressure on the Islanders. Marc-Andre Cliche was able to get to the bench, and on raced Matt Duchene. While this personnel change was going down, Jan Hejda made an exquisite pinch on the half-boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone. The puck found Duchene below the goal-line, and in true Matty fashion, he dished up a delicious pass to Cody McCleod, who buried it for a 1-0 lead.

The second period was where the magic happened. The Avs weren’t carving pumpkins, but they were carving up the Islanders defense, and hey, the Isles have orange in their color scheme. Chad Johnson (can we call you TresCero?) had more holes than a jack-o-lantern grin, and the Avs were able to find them tonight. Props if you’re following the TresCero reference.

Nathan MacKinnon is on the board ladies and gentlemen!!! The Avs had a power play opportunity early in the period, and MacKinnon was able to gather a loose puck from in front of the net. The Isles’ netminder, Johnson, flailed to the ground, an MacKinnon took his time before sniping home his first-goal of the season. DEEEPP BREATHHH! The patience he showed on the goal was extraordinary, and his celebration was filled with exuberance and relief.

Later in the period, Marc-Andre Cliche banked a shot in off Johnson, to give the Avalanche a 3-0 lead. At the start of the night, had you given me two choices: 1) The Avs’ fourth line accounts for two goals, or 2) In the spirit of the holiday, you will see a ghost, I would have gone with the ghost. It just seemed more likely, what can I say?

MacKinnon decided that scoring twice would be nice, and drove hard to the net to tip in a Jarome Iginla pass/shot at 10:14 in the frame. MacKinnon now is ahead of his goal scoring pace through the first 11 games of last season. We’ll see if tonight popped the cork so to speak, and if he is going to go on a tear now that the chimpanzee has been removed from his back.

Once the Avalanche had their 4-0 lead, they began to sit back a bit, and the Islanders started to throw a ton of junk at Varly. The chances got more dangerous as the game progressed, but in reality, they were throwing everything they could at the net, regardless of quality. Semyon Varlamov stood strong, and finished with a 40-save shutout, with a vast majority of those shots coming after the game was already out of hand.

Erik Johnson capped off the scoring in the third period, with a slapper from the point off a Matt Duchene face-off win. A really nice win for the Avalanche, in front of the smallest Pepsi Center crowd of the season to date. The Avalanche finish the month with 10 points, and while there is still work to be done, they managed to stay afloat despite playing like they were drowning more often than not. In fact, they now find themselves on a five-game point streak, despite only having two wins over that stretch. In a points driven league, you take points however you can get them, and even though this has been a frustrating stretch, the Avs are picking em up.

The Avalanche head to St. Louis next, to take on the rival Blues on Saturday night. St. Louis will be without former Av, Paul Stastny, for that game. Figures to be a heated contest, with both teams looking to improve their early season standing within the division. The Blues had the Avs’ number last season, so it sure would be sweet to pick up a win in their building. Darn my sweet tooth, now I want candy again…