But then, the Avalanche committed three more infractions over the next 3:44, and the Islanders took advantage to score two 5-on-3 goals.
Somehow, Colorado survived Saturday night.
The Avalanche regained their composure, and held on to beat the Islanders 5-2 -- the deceptive margin coming as the result of two empty-net goals in the final minute.
Matt Duchene scored twice in a 2:44 span to give Colorado that three-goal advantage. Nathan MacKinnon got the Avalanche on the board, and Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stasny added the empty-netters. Jean-Sebastien Giguere allowed the two 5-on-3 goals, but was otherwise string, stopping 30 shots.
Colorado coach Patrick Roy credited his squad for not panicking after giving up the 5-on-3 goals.
"I thought we remained pretty calm on the bench," Roy said. "We had a power play that gave us some momentum back. ... And we also had (a) great save. I think (Giguere) touched it with his glove at the end. That was a big save for us."
Duchene broke a nine-goal drought to reach 101 for his career.
Roy didn't believe Duchene was pressing in search of his 100th goal.
"People made a big story of that, but not me," Roy said. "He had chances.every night. It was just a matter of time. And tonight he was resilient. He went to the net, he stayed there, and took advantage of the rebound. And then the second shot was a perfect shot. Right under the bar. It was a beauty."
The win snapped a two-game skid for Colorado, and gave it some momentum going into the Olympic break.
"I'm very proud of our players," Roy said. "Hopefully, our guys have a good 10 days off."
For the Islanders it was a disappointing end to the pre-Olympic portion of the schedule. All appeared to be lost in the second period, where they looked extremely sluggish and could only manage four shots on goal.
But the flurry of Colorado penalties ignited the New York offense. John Tavares scored his 24th goal of the season to put the Islanders on the board with 8:43 remaining. Just 57 seconds later, Lubomir Visnovsky added another, to cut the deficit to one.
The Islanders had the momentum on their side, and a raucous crowd behind them. They also had another 1:55 on the power play. But they were unable to get the equalizer.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano was frustrated by the fact that his team was dominant in significant stretches of the first and third periods, but couldn't turn it into a positive result.
"Same old story," Capuano said. "We dominated the game, and we don't win the hockey game. ... We had some unbelievable chances. Give their goaltender credit. He played extremely well."
Capuano expressed hope that his club will bounce back after the time off.
"We will take.three or four days and regroup, and go through some video of the first half, things that we need to work on, and try to concentrate on those areas."