DENVER - Jack Capuano made the decision to start Chad Johnson in goal Thursday night rather than give Jaroslav Halak a chance to work out the kinks in his game as the Islanders embarked on a difficult five-game road trip.
That move turned out poorly. Then again, nothing really went well for the Islanders in a 5-0 loss to the Avalanche.
They controlled the game for long stretches but could not break through on Semyon Varlamov, who made 40 saves.
Another three-goal second period did in the Isles. This was the third straight game in which they've allowed three in the middle period. What galled Capuano most was that the Avalanche didn't exactly press the advantage while turning a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 cushion.
"We gave them three chances in the second," Capuano said. "The second goal was a bad play on the penalty kill and the third goal was bad."
Everyone had a hand in the 10-minute meltdown. After the Isles built a 29-9 edge in shot attempts after a period and misfired on the second of six power plays at the start of the second, the Avs got their first power play and converted.
Johnson stopped Gabriel Landeskog's try from the side of the net and all four Islanders penalty-killers dived into the crease, leaving Nathan MacKinnon alone with the puck to beat Johnson.
The Avalanche's fourth line had produced zero goals in the team's first 10 games, but enforcer Cody McLeod scored the first goal of the game and linemate Marc-Andre Cliche banked a no-angle shot off Johnson's pads in the second. MacKinnon scored again 1:15 later, beating everyone to the slot to tap in Jarome Iginla's pass.
"We got sloppy," said John Tavares, who had five shots. "When you're getting chances, you just have to be better than their goaltender at times, and that starts with me. I was kicking myself for not converting on all the chances I had."
The Avs didn't have a shot in the third period until the 13:40 mark, but it went in. Erik Johnson beat Chad Johnson with a long, unscreened shot, one of only 23 Colorado shots on goal in the game. The Islanders had a 79-38 advantage in shot attempts, with the Avs blocking 22 shots.
"You can't give up five goals on 20-something shots. It's not good enough," Chad Johnson said. "Our goaltending isn't doing the job."
That was the reason Capuano went with Johnson over Halak, who was shaky in Tuesday night's 4-3 loss to the Jets. But now the Islanders have allowed 36 goals in 10 games, tied with the Oilers, Flyers and Sabres for the most allowed in the NHL. And now they head to San Jose to kick off three straight games against the league's California teams, who are a combined 20-9-4.
"When we do what we need to do, when we get pucks deep and when we control the play in our own end, we're a good team," Johnny Boychuk said. "We have to believe in ourselves.
"We've given up a lot of goals and we need to be better, help our goaltenders out. But we've been a good team. There's no reason to panic at all."