Islanders

An Avalanche Of Angst: Islanders Blow Huge Lead, Fall In OT

3-Goal Advantage Disappears Over Final 21 Minutes; Colorado Escapes 4-3
Al Montoya

Islanders goalie Al Montoya. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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DENVER (AP) — Kyle Quincey scored a power-play goal 2:39 into overtime and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 30 saves, helping the Colorado Avalanche rally from a three-goal deficit and beat the slumping New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

With the Avalanche on the advantage following a high-sticking penalty against goalie Al Montoya, Quincey sent a shot in from near the blue line.

Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk and Jan Hejda added goals for the Avalanche, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Josh Bailey, Brian Rolston and Michael Grabner scored for the Islanders, who led 3-0 until the final minute of the second period.

Then, the momentum shifted.

Montoya was sensational, turning in one sprawling save after another. But he surrendered a goal to Stastny with 21 seconds left in the second on a 5-on-3 power play and another to Hejduk that trickled through his legs with nearly 14 minutes remaining in regulation.

Hejda tied it at 3 when his shot caught Montoya by surprise, sneaking into the net under Montoya’s arm.

Giguere settled in after allowing three early goals in his first home start for the Avalanche. Nothing shook him late, not even Grabner running into him and sending his mask flying and the net off its pegs.

The Islanders were on the power play for the final 1:43 of regulation after Daniel Winnik was called for goaltender interference after colliding with Montoya. But the Avalanche killed off the penalty to get the game into overtime.

Horrific at home this season, the Avalanche changed some things up against the Islanders.

Colorado coach Joe Sacco started Giguere in net and benched Jay McClement, who had played every game this season but has just one goal.

The team also called a players’ only meeting — not to point fingers but to drive home the importance of finishing games at home, where the Avs won for just the second time this season.

The Islanders demonstrated they have more weapons on offense than just John Tavares, who entered with eight of New York’s 25 goals (32 percent), the highest percentage in the NHL.

On a night when Tavares was held in check, his teammates picked up the slack.

Grabner gave the Islanders a comfortable three-goal lead when he scored on a pass from Matt Moulson midway through the second.

That was after Rolston fired a shot past Giguere just 34 seconds into the second. It was the Islanders’ fastest goal to start a period this season.

Bailey scored his first goal of the season when he redirected a shot from defenseman Mark Streit past Giguere.

Moments earlier, the Avalanche thought they had a goal when David Jones poked the puck into the net with Montoya sprawled on the ice. But the referee waved it off, ruling he blew the play dead before the puck trickled in.

Avalanche forward Peter Mueller missed another game because of a head injury.

Mueller took part in the morning skate, but Sacco said he wasn’t ready to play yet. Mueller has been in only three games for the Avs this season after sitting out all of last season with post-concussion symptoms.

“All we can do is stay patient with him,” Sacco said. “He’ll get back in that lineup pretty soon.”

NOTES: Avs F Cody McLeod took a stick to the face in the opening period that cut open the side of his nose. He sat on the bench as the trainers fixed him up. … The Avs are 5-0 against the Eastern Conference this season. … Islanders G Evgeni Nabokov was scratched, as Rick DiPietro served as Montoya’s backup.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)