Once the Blue Jackets found their footing in tonight’s game, they certainly made it interesting – and they nearly left Brooklyn with two points.
They were guilty of a slow start (okay, a very slow start) and registered only two shots on goal in the opening period. Thomas Greiss, assuming the No. 1 role for the Islanders with Jaroslav Halak injured, wasn’t tested until the third period, and that’s when it got a little crazy.
Down 3-1 after 20 minutes, the Blue Jackets gathered themselves and tied the game in the third period, but a power play goal from Anders Lee gave the Islanders a much-needed 4-3 win at Barclays Center as their playoff push rolled along.
And during a stretch in which goals and scoring chances have been hard to come by, the Blue Jackets saw the dam break a little bit, but it wasn't enough.
“We need to be better,” captain Nick Foligno said. “You’re not going to win a lot of games if you’re scoring one or two. We had chances to get the fourth one.”
Brandon Dubinsky scored the opening goal 4:14 into the first period, capitalizing on a heads-up play and sacrifice from line mate Boone Jenner, who blocked a shot in his own zone that sprung an odd-man rush for Columbus.
With Cam Atkinson on the other wing, Dubinsky fired a low shot to beat Greiss on the glove side and give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game.
The Islanders answered in a big way, scoring three unanswered goals to put a strangle hold on the game late in the first period. John Tavares tied it at 7:25 after burying a great pass from Ryan Strome, then it was Thomas Hickey beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a long-range slap shot at 17:51 to give New York its first lead.
And with 1:28 remaining in the first, Tavares scored his second of the game on a bang-bang play around the net. Those late two goals – 41 seconds apart – gave the Islanders a huge life going into the second period.
But the Blue Jackets bounced back.
Their second period was a steadier one and they began to take the game back. Brandon Saad instilled some hope with a floating, knuckling shot through traffic (snapping an 0-for-18 drought on the power play) to make it a 3-2 game with 4:12 left in the middle frame.
Jenner scored his 29th goal of the season only 37 seconds into the third period, pulling Columbus even at 3-3. Later in the third period, Lee maneuvered the puck into the net after settling a hot carom off the end boards, and it would stand as the game winner.
The Blue Jackets got a late power play but didn’t get many pucks to the net. They hit a crossbar late in regulation, but there were not many threatening chances with a 6-on-4 and then 5-on-4 advantage as time wound down.
The comeback was a positive step forward, but John Tortorella wanted to leave it at that.
“I’m not going to get into moral victories,” Tortorella said. “We lose another hockey game.”
“I thought we settled the game down in the second period. Not enough offense from either team. We played better as the game went on, but we lose the hockey game.”