It wasn't quite the start to the regular season that the New York Islanders envisioned.
Coming off the heels of a 6-0-2 preseason, the Islanders dropped their season opener 5-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
"It was a tough way to start obviously," John Tavares said. "We weren't a very hard team to play against tonight. We obviously have to be a lot better tomorrow."
Columbus took a 1-0 lead early, as Long Island native Sonny Milano opened the scoring 67 seconds into the game. Cam Atkinson made it 2-0 midway through the period, as Artemi Panarin's cross-crease pass deflected off his linemate's skate and past Thomas Greiss at 11:02. Head Coach Doug Weight said the game was still in reach after the first period, but Ryan Murray made it 3-0 on a delayed penalty early in the second.
"We had some chances early and we had some jump," Weight said. "It seemed like a little deer in the headlights after it was 3-0 and we just didn't react well to that game. We'll certainly be better tomorrow."
Zach Werenski's power-play goal made it a 4-0 game midway through the second period and Pierre-Luc Dubois' first-career NHL goal made it 5-0 by the 11:50 mark, prompting Jaroslav Halak to relieve Greiss.
Halak stopped all 11 shots he faced in relief. Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the shutout.
The season opener was a setback for the Islanders, who were putting the loss in perspective and looking ahead to Saturday's home opener against Buffalo.
"It's a good wakeup call for us," Andrew Ladd said. "There's no panic in here, not at all. We have the opportunity to comeback tomorrow night and right the ship, so we'll be ready tomorrow."
Weight suggested some roster changes for Saturday's game. Joshua Ho-Sang, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock were the healthy scratches on Friday night. As of Friday night, Weight said the plan is still for Halak to start in goal.
NOTES & NUMBERS:
Mathew Barzal had several noteworthy plays on Friday night. The 20-year-old created one of the Islanders best chances in the second period, shooting for Sergei Bobrovksy's outside pad and sending the rebound to Josh Bailey on the far side. Barzal also put all of his 6'0 189 lbs. frame into a hit on Brandon Dubinsky, sending the 6'2, 205 lbs. center hard into the boards.
Johnny Boychuk dropped the gloves with Matt Calvert at the end of the second period, his third fight as an Islander and first fight since Dec. 23, 2016 against Marcus Foligno.
Friday's game was largely void of penalties, with only three calls between the two teams. The Islanders power play went 0-for-1, while the penalty kill went 1-for-2.
The Islanders are back on the ice on Saturday for their home opener, as they take on the Buffalo Sabres (0-0-1) at Barclays Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.