Ryan Strome summed up the Islanders' goal Tuesday night.
"We needed to come out with authority," he said of the Isles' first game at Nassau Coliseum after a 12-day, five-game road trip.
The Isles scored twice in the first 5:21 and never let up on the Avalanche, pulling away with a dominating 6-0 victory that marked their fourth straight win and second straight shutout for Jaroslav Halak, who had to make only 20 saves in becoming the first Isles goaltender with back-to-back shutouts since Rick DiPietro did it on Dec. 23 and 26, 2006.
"It's a team effort," said Halak, who raised his save percentage to .912 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.57. "We kept their shots low, blocked a lot of shots again tonight. It's always easier when you have those type of games."
The Islanders made nothing easy for the Avs. Johnny Boychuk, back in the lineup after missing a game with a sore knee, blasted a shot deliberately wide that caromed off the end boards, bounced through the slot and right to Nick Leddy, who beat Semyon Varlamov just 1:33 into the game.
Anders Lee took advantage of another good bounce on the power play at 5:21 and the Avs, who had shut out the Islanders 5-0 on Oct. 30 in Denver but were outshot 40-24 that game, looked a bit shell-shocked.
Travis Hamonic's slapper off John Tavares' pass made it 3-0 at 6:38 of the second. Nikolay Kulemin scored his second shorthanded goal of the season at 11:32, a breakaway with a sweet backhand finish.
And in the third, Casey Cizikas and Strome each scored their first goals of the season, leaving the 12,888 chanting "We want seven!" They had to settle for six goals on 46 shots, and it never even felt as close as the wide final margin.
"It's good to see Ryan get to the paint and get his first," Jack Capuano said. "It's good to see Casey get on the board tonight. Our attention to detail has been good. When we do the right things, we give ourselves a chance."
The Islanders now sit 10-5-0, their 15 games needed to get to 10 wins the fastest since the 2001-02 team had 10 wins in 13 games. They are within a point of the first-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division. Perhaps more important, they are gaining the respect around the league.
"They play real well," Avs coach Patrick Roy said. "They were real intense. It's a team that's much-improved."
Primarily because there hasn't been any sitting back over the past five games. They outplayed the Sharks in San Jose 10 days ago but could not break a 1-1 tie before falling in the third. Undeterred, the Isles played close games in Anaheim, Los Angeles and Glendale before prevailing in overtime, a shootout and with 2:31 to play.
That last night's return home could have been seen as a letdown never seemed to enter the conversation.
"It just depends on how play," Tavares said. "We knew the importance of this game. We wanted to get our legs into it early and we got a couple goals to give us a boost. Everyone's playing well."