Islanders top Avalanche, heat up as they prepare for Rangers
The Rangers make their initial visit to Brooklyn on Wednesday night, which figures to be the first sellout at Barclays Center since the Islanders’ season opener.
The Isles are starting to roll again, just in time to face their now cross-borough rivals.
They have points now in four straight games — improving to 3-0-1 over the past week with a solid 5-3 win on Monday over Colorado before an announced crowd of just 11,585.
“I think (Wednesday) will probably be the loudest the building has been up until this point, for sure,” coach Jack Capuano said after the Isles improved to 8-4-2 on their new home ice.
“It will be a great atmosphere every time we play them, but being in a new facility... both teams will go at it, business as usual, but I know when our guys step on the ice, they’ll see an atmosphere they haven’t probably seen up until this point.”
Capuano’s fourth line continues to make important offensive contributions, with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas making up for a poor defensive shift on the Avalanche’s equalizer in the second period by burying a goal apiece in the third to snap a 2-2 tie.
“They work and they do the right things,” Capuano said of that unit, which also includes Matt Martin. “When you work hard, you get rewarded in life, and the way they’re playing right now, they deserve to get rewarded.”
Colorado's Chris Wagner and Islanders' Thomas Hickey mix it up in front Isles' goalie Thomas Greiss.
Backup goalie Thomas Greiss started for a second straight game over Jaroslav Halak and made 25 saves for the surging Isles (13-8-4).
After ex-Isle Blake Comeau traded goals with Kyle Okposo (5-on-3) in the opening period, Ryan Strome — who has four points in three games since returning from a three-week demotion to AHL Bridgeport — made a deft pass to spring Mikhail Grabovski for a backhanded goal for a 2-1 lead 6:31 into the middle session.
But Jarome Iginla netted the 597th of his career to tie it off a Clutterbuck turnover just 41 seconds later.
Islanders' John Tavares moves the puck up the ice against Colorado.
“I know all three of us were pretty upset after we gave up that goal right after we scored, but we stayed with it and continued doing what we have to do to be successful,” Cizikas said.
Indeed, Clutterbuck deflected home Thomas Hickey’s right-point shot for his sixth of the season 1:52 into the final period, and Cizikas added on with an unassisted score off a turnover for a two-goal cushion at 8:16.
Canadian outlet Sportsnet reported the Isles recently rejected Winnipeg’s offer of two-time All-Star defenseman and pending unrestricted free agent Dustin Byfuglien for D Travis Hamonic, who had requested a trade for personal reasons to a team closer to his Winnipeg-area home…Josh Bailey played his 500th NHL game.