Both teams were playing their second game in as many nights and both teams had scored one goal after 20 minutes…but that’s about where the similarities stopped tonight.
BLUE JACKETS 2 | ISLANDERS 5
The New York Islanders, the Metropolitan Division’s top team entering the game, made sure they remained the division leader headed into the new week with an authoritative performance at Nationwide Arena. They owned the puck, dominating long stretches of play and never really let the Blue Jackets get their game going, scoring three times in the second period to pull away in the first meeting between the two teams in 2014-15.
It took 31 seconds for the Islanders to break through, controlling the opening shift right from the opening face-off. Nick Leddy’s point shot was deflected en route by Nikolai Kulemin, giving New York a 1-0 lead that didn't last long.
Jack Johnson scored on the power play at 4:22 to bring the Blue Jackets back to level, despite being out-shot 16-4 in the first period - a disturbing trend that’s developed in the last week or so for Columbus.
Matt Martin scored at 10:04 of the second period, converting a beautiful pass from Ryan Strome to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Then it was a misplay by Kevin Connauton at the blue line allowing Anders Lee to break in uncontested, slipping a backhander five-hole on Sergei Bobrovsky to make it a 3-1 advantage.
The dagger came a few minutes later. A bouncing puck landed on the stick of Islanders defenseman Brian Strait in the slot, chopping it toward the net and getting a fortuitous bounce off the stick of Ryan Johansen and into the Blue Jackets’ net. Strait’s goal - his first of the season - gave the Islanders a comfortable lead with 20 minutes to go.
"They were moving, they were skating, and we were watching," said Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards.
For the second straight night, Bobrovsky didn’t get much help in front of him. The Blue Jackets registered only 12 shots on goal through two periods, 18 on the game, and gave up 40 to an Islanders team that possesses a multitude of weapons.
The Blue Jackets will have a few days to think about this one and also try to get back on track after back-to-back defeats. Up next is a Wednesday night matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams, at Nationwide Arena.
Strait’s goal late in the second period was the last thing the Blue Jackets needed to happen. They were still in the game at 3-1 down but needed the get the next goal and build from there, but a bad bounce and a bad break helped the Islanders rack up a crucial insurance tally with 2:29 left in the second period when the Jackets could ill afford to let the deficit grow any larger.
vs. Montreal Canadiens
Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET