The New York Islanders were able to take a point out of their 3-2 OT loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, but despite a comeback effort, the result had a glass-half-empty feel to it.
John Tavares' seeing-eye wrister got the Islanders to overtime, but Cam Atkinson stung the Islanders playoff push with the game-winner 1:19 into the extra frame. It was half a result on a night where the Islanders needed a full one. At the final horn, the Islanders moved into a tie with Toronto with 78 points and one point above Tampa, but it'll be a nervous night of scoreboard watching as both the Leafs and Lightning play at 7 p.m.
"The loss still really stings because of how important it is," Tavares said. "We're really starting to get down to the wire here and we have to find another level and try to gain some more momentum. We haven't been as consistent as we'd like, but a point's a point."
Video: CBJ@NYI: Tavares wrists one in through traffic
Doug Weight was critical of his team's effort in the first two periods, as the Islanders were outshot 29-13 and fell behind 2-1. The lone highlights of the first 40 minutes were Travis Hamonic's third goal of the season and 27 of Thomas Greiss' 35 saves.
"I don't even know that I liked more than one or two shifts in the first two periods," Weight said. "We've got a team full of character guys and I know they care and I know they know the position we're in and that certainly came to the forefront in the third period."
The Islanders simplified their game and threw more shots on Blue Jackets backup Joonas Korpisalo, resulting in Tavares' tying goal at 8:48. From there the Islanders visibly had more jump, as Brock Nelson hit a post and Scott Mayfield hustled back to catch Cam Atkinson on a late breakaway.
Video: CBJ@NYI: Greiss holds the near post to deny Anderson
Ultimately the game went to 3-on-3 OT and a turnover at the Columbus blue line led to a chaotic sequence in the Islanders zone, where Brandon Dubinsky circled the net and fed Atkinson out front for the tap-in.
"I guess we get a point and move forward, but we could have been better in the first two," Hamonic said. "It's frustrating."
Hamonic had the Islanders up 1-0 at 14:18 of the first period, one-timing a Jason Chimera feed from the point through traffic and past Korpisalo.
Video: CBJ@NYI: Hamonic one-times Chimera's feed past Greiss
The Blue Jackets tied it up a minute into the second period, as Dennis Seidenberg blew a tire at the blue line turning the puck over to Oliver Bjorkstrand, who skated in and beat Greiss over the high glove. Josh Anderson made it 2-1 at 15:48 of the second period, scoring his third goal in his last two games vs. the Islanders.
After playing 10 games in 17 days, the Islanders now have three days off before their next game, as they visit the New York Rangers on Wednesday night. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.
Casey Cizikas returned to the Islanders lineup on Saturday, his first game since suffering an upper-body injury on Feb. 21.
Cizikas, one of the Islanders most consistent centers, started as a winger for Saturday's game, alongside Ryan Strome and Cal Clutterbuck, but was back at center late in the game with Clutterbuck and Kulemin. Cizikas skated 12:05 in his return with four hits. He also won four-of-five faceoffs.