Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov and teammates react as Colorado Avalanche...

Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov and teammates react as Colorado Avalanche players celebrate a goal by center Nathan MacKinnon in the third period of an NHL hockey game at UBS Arena on Monday, March 7, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Semyon Varlamov, and the goalie alone, kept the Islanders in it against the NHL-leading Avalanche through two periods Monday night despite an onslaught of turnovers and one-sided play.

Which is to say, the Islanders’ 5-4 loss at UBS Arena was not on their netminder as they gave up a season-high 49 shots.

"It’s not good enough," Casey Cizikas said. "Varly gave us every chance to win that game. He played unbelievable. He made some incredible saves and we let him down. We let him down big time."

The Avalanche finally capitalized on their tactical advantage to score four goals in 4 minutes, 21 seconds of the third period to take a 5-1 lead before the Islanders’ frantic push fell short. With the Islanders skating six-on-five, Brock Nelson made it 5-4 with 26.2 seconds left.

Varlamov, the hard-luck loser for the sixth straight time dating to Jan. 22, finished with a season-high 44 saves.

"Halfway through the third before they put in the onslaught there, the message on the bench was, ‘Let’s go get him one,’ " said Anders Lee, who scored two power-play goals. "He deserved it."

The Islanders (21-24-8) still have not won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak from Jan. 17-21. Nor have they won consecutive games in regulation since Nov. 4-6. They are 19 points out of the Eastern Conference’s last wild-card spot.

The Islanders also fell to 4-18-2 against teams in playoff positions, having been outscored 83-47.

"They’re a high-end team, they’ve got some high-end guys," said defenseman Noah Dobson, who had two assists, including setting up Lee’s first goal to make it 1-0 at 8:59 of the first period. "For us, it just started with puck management. We turned over a lot of pucks and they’re a transition team."

Pavel Francouz stopped 32 shots for the Avalanche (41-11-5), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Defenseman Cale Makar scored twice on eight shots and Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists with nine shots.

"We ran up against a top-level team with their top guys feeling it," coach Barry Trotz said. "Without our goaltender, it could have been ugly. It was ugly for a while. I thought Varly was the best player on the ice for both teams."

As for the turnovers — the Islanders had 12 giveaways on the scoresheet, but it was more than that — Trotz said there were both forced and unforced errors.

"They come with a lot of pressure," he said. "You’ve got to make a play under pressure. This is the NHL."

MacKinnon put the Avalanche ahead 2-1 at 4:06 of the third period, five seconds after an Avalanche power play expired. J.T. Compher pushed it to 3-1 at 6:34, leaving Oliver Wahlstrom to smash his stick against the goalpost. Makar added his second goal at 7:41 and former Islanders defenseman Devon Toews, who received a first-period video tribute, made it 5-1 at 8:27.

Lee, back in the lineup after missing a game for personal reasons, cut it to 5-2 at 11:58 with his second power-play goal of the game. Cizikas, pouncing on a loose puck, pulled the Islanders within 5-3 at 13:28.

Makar, extending his point streak to 12 games, lasered home a shot to tie it at 1 at 14:18. Varlamov kept it tied with his best save of the game, reaching back with his paddle to stop Makar at the post at 5:36 of the second period.

The Islanders should have taken a one-goal lead into the third period, but Josh Bailey pulled his backhander wide of the near post while staring at an open net at 18:31.

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