A tough bounce did the New York Islanders in on Monday night, as they fell 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nassau Coliseum.
Vladislav Gavrikov broke a 2-2 tie with 3:29 to play in the third period, cashing in on a rebound after a bouncing puck handcuffed Thomas Greiss. On a night where the Isles clanked a pair of shots off the iron - including Nick Leddy's potential game-tying goal with about two minutes to play - the bad bounce left a sour taste, especially in a tight divisional clash.
"They got a bounce late. We hit a couple of posts, that's how it goes sometimes," Mathew Barzal said.
Barzal (1G, 1A) and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders, while Thomas Greiss stopped 32-of-35 shots in the loss. Kevin Stenlund and Nathan Gerbe also scored for the surging Blue Jackets, who won their fifth straight game and extended their point streak to eight games.
Video: NYI Recap: Barzal notches two points in 3-2 loss
For the second straight game, the Isles opened the scoring, as Lee buried his 10th goal of the season off a Barzal, but couldn't hold the lead, as Columbus responded with two straight goals in the second period. Stenlund tied the score 1-1 with a power-play goal at 6:18, while Gerbe capitalized off a Noah Dobson turnover, roofing a backhander past Greiss at 9:34.
The Isles felt it was those types of self-inflicted mistakes that have cost them during their 1-2-1 stretch.
"That's got to be the storyline the last couple of games; we make mistakes that end up in the back of our net," said Jordan Eberle, who recorded two assists in the loss. "We've got to find a way to clean that up because it's uncharacteristic of us. We get a few days here to refresh and reenergize and be ready for Chicago."
Barzal tied the score before the end of the second period, extending his goal-scoring streak to three games, but the Isles couldn't find a way to break through in the third period. Lee was denied on a AAA chance by Joonas Korpisalo (35 saves), while Casey Cizikas had his shorthanded breakaway stopped on a late third period penalty kill.
Video: CBJ@NYI: Barzal sets up Lee's opening tally
With a tight game coming down to the wire, it was a fluttering shot from Alexandre Texier - the catalyst to Gavrikov's game-winner - that proved to be the difference. Overall the Isles outattemped Columbus 68-54.
"I'm a little disappointed," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought should have gotten a point tonight at least."
Despite the loss, the Isles head into the Christmas break in second place in the Metropolitan Division, with a 23-9-3 record and 49 points.
"You look over the first half as a whole, I like where we're at," Barzal said. "We've had some good stretches of hockey. We've beat some good teams lately, but we've given away some points that we should have got. At the end of the day, we're in a pretty good spot right now and have to get our minds ready after Christmas to really push for a playoff spot."
BARZAL EXTENDS GOAL STREAK:
Mathew Barzal extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, as he recorded his team-leading 16th goal of the season.
Johnny Boychuk's point shot caromed off the end boards and right to Barzal, as the Isles' leading scorer circled the net and tied the score 2-2 at 13:40 of the second period. Barzal leads the team in goals (16), assists (16) and points (32) through 35 games.
LADD MAKES SEASON DEBUT:
Andrew Ladd played his first game for the Islanders since March 24, as he made his season debut on Monday night.
Ladd skated on a line with Michael Dal Colle - who was returning after missing three games with an upper-body injury - and Josh Bailey. Ladd skated 9:53 TOI with a team-high five hits and one shot on goal.
MAYFIELD MISSES GAME WITH FLU:
Scott Mayfield missed Monday's game with an illness, only his second missed game in the last 115 contests. Noah Dobson drew into the lineup for Mayfield.
The Isles are off for three days during the NHL's Christmas break. They resume on Friday night in Chicago.
Till then, Happy Holidays!