The New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche are limping into their matchup Monday night in Denver, but both teams got big wins Saturday night.
New York is coming off a 5-2 win at Vegas in a game rookie Simon Holmstrom scored his first NHL goal and goaltender Semyon Varlamov left with an injury.
Holmstrom will likely be in the lineup against Colorado while Varlamov’s status for Monday is unknown. Varlamov left with 6:22 left in the third period and didn’t return to the bench.
“He’s played very well,” coach Lane Lambert said of Varlamov after Saturday’s game. “I don’t know exactly [what happened]. We’ll evaluate him in the next couple days and see where he’s at.”
Varlamov’s departure put a damper on a memorable game for Holmstrom, who has been inserted into the lineup due to injuries. The 21-year-old Swede was playing in his 11th career game and his goal made it 3-1 and proved to be the game winner for the Islanders.
“It was unbelievable,” Holmstrom said. “Just trying to get a shot on net and luckily it went in. It’s a great thing to experience, just with this team as well, they’re unbelievable, so it’s great to share this with them.”
New York was 2-5-1 in its previous eight games before beating the Golden Knights. The Islanders are in the midst of a five-game road trip that started in Boston before going through Arizona, Vegas and now Colorado. The trip wraps up at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers on Thursday.
The Avalanche are playing the fourth game of a five-game homestand on Monday night. They have won two of the first three, including Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Nashville.
Colorado is slowly getting back to health after a rash of injuries to its top-six forwards. Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen and Evan Rodrigues have returned and each has made an impact on this homestand.
Rodrigues had a goal in Thursday night’s loss to Buffalo but had the primary assist on what turned out to be Alex Newhook’s game-winning goal against the Predators. Rodrigues missed nine games with a lower-body injury.
Mikko Rantanen has stepped up with the number of injuries. He has six goals in the last five games and leads the team with 21.
“I think his confidence is really high right now; he’s an elite player,” Rodrigues said. “He’s got every tool. I think since Nathan MacKinnon has gone down, he’s really taken it upon himself to kind of lead this team.
“He wants the puck on his stick. He wants to be the guy that makes the play, whether it’s pass, shot, hit, whatever it may be. I think he’s really taken it upon himself to lead this team.”
Rantanen’s goal Saturday night came on the power play and ended an 0-for-18 stretch on the man-advantage.
“We kind of knew it was coming. We were working, so it was going to come,” Avalanche star Cale Makar said. “We can’t force things but I feel like we were creating opportunities and it was only a matter of time.”
–Field Level Media