DENVER – For nearly 40 minutes, the Colorado Avalanche resembled the team that has been horrific at home this season.
And then they suddenly transformed into the squad they expected to be all along, seizing a game that looked to have all but slipped away.
Kyle Quincey scored a power-play goal 2:39 into overtime and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 30 saves, helping the Avalanche rally from a three-goal deficit and beat the slumping New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.
“It was looking pretty bleak,” Quincey said. “Halfway through the second, it was like, ‘Here go again.’ But we stuck with it.
“I think this is a turning point in our season. We’ve got to build on this momentum and keep going.”
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. Just like that, he lifted the Avalanche’s sagging spirits by snapping a four-game losing streak (0-3-1).
“It definitely wasn’t our best hockey the first two periods. But sometimes that is the way it goes,” forward David Jones said. “Put pucks to the net and find a way to win, especially at home.”
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 early, turning in one sprawling save after another. But he surrendered a goal to Paul Stastny with 21 seconds left in the second on a 5-on-3 power play and another to Milan Hejduk that trickled through his legs with nearly 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
Jan Hejda tied it at three when his shot caught Montoya by surprise, sneaking into the net under Montoya’s arm.
In overtime, Montoya made a more costly mistake by taking a penalty that set the stage for the winning power play goal.
“I don’t blame him,” coach Jack Capuano said of the Islanders, who are 1-6-2 in their last nine games. “They got to the paint there, one tried to stop and ran into him.”
Giguere settled in after allowing three early goals in his first home start for the Avalanche. But nothing shook him late, not even Grabner running into him and sending his mask flying, and knocking 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.
“We had some good chances, but when games are like that and the momentum turns, you have to play with confidence and make the right plays,” Rolston said.
To break out of their funk at home, the Avalanche changed some things against the Islanders.
Colorado coach Joe Sacco started Giguere in net and benched centre 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 emphasize the importance of finishing games at home, where the Avs won for just the second time this season.
“We’ve got to stop the bleeding right now,” Giguere said at the morning skate. “Enough talking, it’s time to have some action.”
Giguere gave high marks for the way his team responded.
“We showed a lot of leadership. Guys were speaking up on the bench and we weren’t accepting being down,” Giguere said. “It wasn’t pretty in the second period, but we found a way to get our energy and get our legs under us. When we scored that big goal it gave us a lot of energy.”
The Islanders demonstrated they have more weapons on offence than just John Tavares, who entered with eight of New York’s 25 goals (32 per cent), 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 seemingly comfortable three-goal lead when he scored off 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 wasthe Islanders’ fastest goal to start a period this season.
Bailey scored his first of the season when he redirected a shot from defenceman Mark Streit past Giguere.
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. 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 had over 50 shots on net for the first time since Nov. 12, 2002, against Columbus. … Islanders G Evgeni Nabokov was scratched, as Rick DiPietro served as Montoya’s backup.