DENVER (AP) — Pavel Francouz made 27 saves and lost his first NHL shutout with just over two minutes remaining as the Colorado Avalanche beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Wednesday night.
“I was telling my father (Wednesday) I’m going to get him a shutout, so I’m really sad that it didn’t work out,” Francouz said. “I’m really happy we won, that’s the most important thing.”
Gabriel Landeskog, Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi scored to help Colorado end a three-game skid against a scuffling New York team.
“We needed to get back on the winning side of things. The homestand has been a little bit up and down, and we found ways to lose games,” Landeskog said. “This was well-needed and big to finish up the homestand this way.”
The Islanders continued their offensive struggles in losing their fourth straight despite another strong performance by Semyon Varlamov. The goaltender, who spent eight seasons with the Avalanche before signing with New York last summer, had 26 saves in his first game in Denver since leaving Colorado.
The Islanders had just two goals on their four-game road trip. Brock Nelson scored his 22nd of the season with Varlamov off for an extra skater and New York trailing by three.
“We’re fighting until the end,” captain Anders Lee said. “This has been a brutal four-game stretch and we’re having a tough time with it.”
The Islanders lost forward Derick Brassard after he was hit in the head on teammate Ryan Pulock’s wrist shot late in the first period. Brassard went to the locker room and played just one shift the rest of the game.
“Pucks are hard, and the wrist shots are hard,” coach Barry Trotz said. “If you get hit in the right spot, trust me it hurts.”
The Avalanche got the early lead when Donskoi tipped in a shot by Makar at 9:07 of the first period, his 15th of the season to set a career high in goals. Burakovsky made it 2-0 just eight seconds after the Islanders killed off a penalty. Burakovsky’s shot from between the circles beat Varlamov high on the glove side at 45 seconds of the second period.
Landeskog made it 3-0 at 7:43 of the third when he deflected Nathan MacKinnon’s shot from the point. MacKinnon had two assists, giving him 51 for the season. He is just the third Colorado player to have at least 50 assists in three straight seasons, joining current general manager Joe Sakic (1998-2002) and Peter Forsberg (1995-99).
Colorado forward Martin Kaut made his NHL debut and nearly scored in the second period but his tip shot went wide.
“I had a couple chances so I think it was a great game for me,” he said.
NOTES: Avalanche D Cale Makar had two assists. … Varlamov was given a video tribute during a timeout in the first period as a thank you for his time with Colorado. … Sakic said before the game the team is exploring deals before Monday’s trade deadline, which includes possibly adding a goaltender for depth, but he is not going to give up top prospects. He said he would prefer to make a “hockey trade” over adding a rental player.
Islanders: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.
Avalanche: At the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
By MICHAEL KELLY, Associated Press
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