The Blue Jackets dropped a 2-0 final to the New York Islanders on Saturday night in Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
Game in a Paragraph
Columbus didn't have quite the same energy as the night before in a win vs. Pittsburgh, and after falling behind early to a stingy Islanders team, the Blue Jackets just couldn't find enough offense to get back in the game while falling back to .500 on the year. The Blue Jackets were shut out for the second time this year.
Video: CBJ Recap: Merzlikins makes 25 saves in 2-0 loss
Quote of the Game
Head coach John Tortorella: "We weren't able to finish. We ended up with some opportunities. I thought we had some good forechecking. We didn't score."
- Elvis Merzlikins made 25 saves but fell to 0-3-3 on the year.
- Seth Jones skated 27:11 and the Blue Jackets had a 19-10 edge in shots on goal at 5-on-5 with him on the ice.
The Islanders needed just 1:18 to take the lead, scoring on a sweet passing play for the team's first line. A tic-tac-toe sequence from Mathew Barzel to Josh Bailey to Anders Lee in the slot freed up the latter to fire bar down over Merzlikins' glove to make it a 1-0 game.
Merzlikins had to make a nice save on Lee as he came in about two minutes later, but the play came at a cost for the Blue Jackets. Lee collided with Zach Werenski in the crease while following the rebound and Werenski was immediately in pain, skating off the ice and not returning because of an upper-body injury.
Merzlikins added nice stops on Anthony Beauvillier in transition and Casey Cizikas on a rebound early, while Columbus' best chance in the period came as Long Island native Sonny Milano stole the puck from Devon Toews, skated in and hit the iron.
While Columbus lost Werenski early in the game, New York had to make its own change 14:06 into the game. Starting goalie Thomas Greiss left and was replaced by Semyon Varlamov between the pipes.
Varlamov got off to a strong start in the second to keep it a 1-0 game. He got lucky on one chance, as a turnover allowed Alexandre Texier to feed Cam Atkinson in front but he fired wide, then Varlamov made a big stop on Oliver Bjorkstrand in a 3-on-2 chance from the slot and also swallowed a later chance from Texier in transition.
That allowed the Isles to make it a 2-0 game late in the period. After a long shift in the CBJ offensive zone, Adam Pelech got the puck and flipped a perfect pass out of the zone to Barzal in stride, and he motored behind the defense and beat Merzlikins on a breakaway with a slick backhand finish.
The Blue Jackets found it hard to get through the Islanders defense the rest of the way and even with a late power play, the game's first, couldn't beat Varlamov.
1. It's hard to win a game when you don't score a goal, right? That has been the story of the season at times for the Blue Jackets, and it's not a huge surprise the Islanders -- one of the toughest teams to score against in the entire league -- were able to make it hard on Columbus when it came to taking away time and space. The Isles collapse on the net and take away shooting lanes as well. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Blue Jackets had a 20-13 edge in high-danger chances and a 3.58-2.41 edge in expected goals at 5-on-5, but they couldn't get a goal. "They make it hard, but we got some chances," Bjorkstrand said. "We just have to bury those."
2. So about the last thing the Blue Jackets could do was give up a goal in the first 80 seconds, and that's what happened. It was a nice passing play between all three members of the Isles' top line, and it's a dream for that team to get ahead early. Chasing the game rarely works out well against the Isles, as the Blue Jackets have found out often over the past two years; this was the third time Columbus was shut out by the team in the last five games. "We played well," Jones said. "The first half of the first period, we weren't very good, but we settled in nicely. I thought the second period we really controlled the play. In the third period we kept pressure on them, got some good looks, it's just nothing went in."
3. The Blue Jackets were dealt a huge blow in the first four minutes when Werenski went down, and it certainly did not look good as he threw his stick aside, went to the ice in pain and then skated immediately to the dressing room. The top-pair D-man had been in the midst of an excellent stretch, and losing him was a big blow to the Blue Jackets. Columbus apportioned out ice time liberally -- Jones was followed by Vladislav Gavrikov (23:52), Ryan Murray (22:43), Dean Kukan (22:14) and David Savard (22:08) -- but it still hurt to lose No. 8. "The guys did a good job of keeping them short, rolling them over and not overextending our shifts," Jones said.
Columbus previously was not called for a penalty for the second time this year. The first was in an Oct. 21 win at Toronto. … Columbus' 10-game streak of scoring first came to a close. The Blue Jackets fell to 0-8-3 when giving up the first goal. … A year after going just 1-3 vs. the Islanders, Columbus fell to 0-2 this season. ... Bjorkstrand's career-high-tying six-game point streak ended with nine points (2-7-9).
The Blue Jackets used the same lineup as Friday night's win vs. Pittsburgh. Forward Eric Robinson and defenseman Scott Harrington were healthy scratches.
The Blue Jackets return home Tuesday night to face Arizona at Nationwide Arena .