This was a weird one.
The Islanders will gladly take the two points after a 6-4 win over the Avalanche on Sunday night at Barclays Center, a game marked by a franchise rookie-record five assists by Mathew Barzal and a raft of goals that banked in off defensive players.
Colorado came in having played a night earlier, and the Avalanche headed to Sweden immediately after Sunday’s game to prepare for a two-game series with the Senators. Oh, and the Avs also traded Matt Duchene to those same Senators midgame, with Du chene leaving the ice less than 10 minutes in after being informed of the deal.
With all that, the Islanders should have dominated. Instead, they grabbed a 6-2 lead on a lot of luck and some good work by Thomas Greiss in net, even with a couple of goals allowed in the final 30 seconds to account for the tight-looking final score.
“I’m in awe of that game, real ly,” a dour-looking Doug Weight said after his team improved to 5-0-1 at home and won for the sixth time in the last eight. “We got some breaks . . . You’re going to have sloppy games, so you can’t overreact. But we have some guys just going through the motions and it’s becoming a pattern.”
The breaks started early, even before Duchene left (former Islander Blake Comeau also departed after taking a deflected shot to the head).
Scott Mayfield went to shoot the puck but Avs forward Sven Andrighetto swept it away — and one-hopped it past Jonathan Bernier, his own goaltender, at 4:05 of the first.
Duchene and Comeau left at 9:23. Barzal started his run of helpers at 12:58, stealing the puck from Nikita Zadorov and finding Jordan Eberle in the slot for a quick wrister, the first of two goals for Eberle.
“We’ve been watching a lot of video, trying to figure out where we’re going to be,” Eberle said of Barzal. “We just missed one of those in Nashville last week, and tonight we found it.”
Defenseman Nick Leddy scored twice on the now-lethal power play (9-for-16 in the last four games) in the first 4:24 of the second. On the first, Avs defenseman Erik Johnson tipped Leddy’s point shot home; on the second, Bernier deflected Leddy’s shot off the end glass and it bounced back, off Patrik Nemeth’s leg and in.
“Just a weird game,” Eberle said. “We capitalized on our chances but we certainly weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be.”
Johnny Boychuk scored off two Colorado sticks to make it 5-1 and Barzal made another pretty feed to Eberle for a 6-2 lead at 1:23 of the third. Greiss needed to be sharp all night, finishing with 31 saves as the depleted Avalanche had the better of the play overall.
“It’s disappointing the last five, six minutes, we don’t have his back,” Weight said after rookie Alex Kerfoot scored twice in the last half-minute.
The Islanders deserved a better fate Thursday in Washington, when they outplayed the Capitals and came away empty-handed in a 4-3 loss. Perhaps Sunday was their cosmic payback.
“We were sharp, we did the things we’d talked about beforehand,” Weight said of Thursday. “We did none of that today. It’s two points, but we’ve got to get better from this. I refuse to just put it in the cabinet.”