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Tavares, Islanders aim to keep rolling versus Avalanche
(SportsNetwork.com) - John Tavares and the surging New York Islanders will aim for their sixth win in seven games when they visit the Colorado Avalanche for Friday's battle at the Pepsi Center.
Although still in the basement of the Metropolitan Division, the Islanders have put themselves in better position to make a playoff push by winning five of six and seven of their last 10 games.
Tavares has led the club's resurgence and enters Friday riding a seven-game point streak, notching seven goals and eight assists during that run. The 23- year-old star centerman has amassed eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) over his last two games, and with 54 points this season Tavares is tied for second in the league with Chicago's Patrick Kane.
The Isles have won two straight and scored a total of 12 goals in those victories. One night after Tavares had a hat trick and five points in Monday's 7-3 home win over Dallas, the Isles captain added three assists in a 5-3 triumph in Toronto.
Tuesday's win came at the start of a six-game road trip and marked New York's fifth consecutive victory as the guest. Overall, the Islanders are 9-13-0 as the visiting team this season.
In addition to another strong showing from Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Calvin de Haan and Cal Clutterbuck registered third-period scores to help the Isles beat the Maple Leafs. Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner also added tallies for New York and Kevin Poulin stopped 23 shots to collect his third straight win.
"Not our prettiest game, or our best game, but for the circumstances of getting here late last night and playing a team that was fresh, we did a good job of staying with it and taking advantage of our opportunities," said Tavares.
Poulin expects to get the start in net tonight. His only career outing against the Avalanche was a win in Denver on Jan. 8, 2011.
The Avalanche also have been playing well of late, posting wins in four of five tilts following a season-worst four-game slide from Dec. 21-29. Colorado is completing a seven-game homestand on Friday and is 4-1-1 so far on its longest residency of the season. The club has a stout 16-6-2 record as the host in Patrick Roy's first year as head coach.
Colorado last played on Wednesday when it edged the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime. Paul Stastny scored the tying goal with 2:20 left in the third period for the Avs and assisted on Tyson Barrie's game-winning tally 33 seconds into OT.
"(Stastny) was just kind of stick-handling there just waiting for me to get open and I found a lane and then he made a great pass and I was able to put it in," Barrie said.
The Avalanche jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest on goals by Jamie McGinn and Jan Hejda before the Senators stormed ahead in the second period.
Gabriel Landeskog collected three assists and Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves for Colorado. Landeskog has notched a point in eight straight games, registering three goals and eight assists over that stretch.
The Avs played without key forward Ryan O'Reilly on Wednesday and he is questionable for tonight. O'Reilly, who injured his shoulder on Monday while celebrating a Stastny goal in a win over Calgary, is tied with rookie Nathan MacKinnon for second on the team with 14 goals.
Colorado defenseman Nate Guenin also could sit out a third straight game with an ankle injury.
The Avs and Isles last met on Nov. 10, 2011 when Colorado recorded a 4-3 OT win at the Pepsi Center. That win snapped a four-game losing streak in this series for Colorado.
01/10 10:54:02 ET