Slow start continues for Avalanche in blown 3-0 lead to New York Islanders


ELMONT, N.Y. — For Jared Bednar’s opinion of the Islanders’ go-ahead goal, simply look to Cale Makar’s reaction in the moment.

“He felt strongly about the play,” the Avalanche coach said, “and you know Cale: He’s not going to get upset unless there’s a reason.”

The play in question was the moment that provided the final gut punch to the Avalanche in a 5-4 loss to the Islanders on Saturday night. Colorado blew a 3-0 lead halfway through the second period that was still 3-1 entering the third. But New York stunned the Avalanche (4-4-1) with game-tying and go-ahead goals within 17 seconds of each other.

Anthony Beauvillie potted his third of the year with 9:04 remaining, wristing a shot past Alexandar Georgiev for the new goalie’s first regulation loss with Colorado. The odd-man rush that produced that goal, though, stirred controversy on the Avalanche bench. New York winger Anders Lee poked the puck away from Makar, tripping the Norris Trophy-winning defenseman near the blue line.

The whistle did not blow.

“Would like to get a call there,” Bednar said. At the time, he was still fuming about a cross-checking penalty that had been assessed to Nathan MacKinnon earlier in the third period.

A displeased Makar said he had an “open and honest conversation” with the officials about the call.

“Can’t complain,” he said afterward. “It’s a tough one to take, but I guess I just can’t put my skate there.”

Regardless, the consensus among players was that they should not have been in that position to begin with, considering the early lead. Colorado is off to a sluggish start for the second consecutive season.

“The way I look at it moving on for the season is: Obviously at the end of the year, if you’re battling for that first or second playoff position, whether it’s in the Central or in the West, and you needed that extra game, these are the games we’re going to look back on,” Makar told The Post. “So for me, you can’t take any chances of giving away games early on in the season. It is what it is. It’s just going to make our job a lot harder when it comes down to the nitty-gritty stuff at the end.”

The first two periods had been all about breaking through after the Avalanche’s longest scoring drought since Nov. 1-5, 2019. That one lasted 109 minutes, 30 seconds across three games against Dallas and Arizona. This one spanned parts of three games in the tri-state area.

It ended at 104:47 with an Evan Rodrigues power play goal 46 seconds into the second period.

Without leading scorer Valeri Nichushkin in the lineup for the second consecutive game, Bednar had tossed tossed his forward lines into a blender. Emerging was an entirely different trio on the second line: Artturi Lehkonen, seemingly down from the top line to provide a forechecking spark, plus J.T. Compher and Logan O’Connor elevated from the bottom six.

It was the quieter, corresponding move that paid dividends: Rodrigues joining the top line in the exchange with Lehkonen.

“I like the way our lines sorted out tonight,” Bednar said.

Rodrigues fired a scorching one-timer from between the circles on an assist from Mikko Rantanen. Later in a five-on-five shift with the top line, he redirected a MacKinnon shot into the bottom corner of the net. That made it 3-0.


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