Josh Bailey scored his first-career hat trick on Thursday, but it came in a losing effort as the New York Islanders fell 6-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
It was hard for Bailey to take solace in his first three-goal game, as the Islanders suffered back-to-back regulation losses for the first time this season. It was even more frustrating given that the Islanders had rallied out of a 3-0 hole to tie the score 3-3 in the second period, only to see the Blue Jackets retake the lead.
"It's obviously nice to get one, but they are a lot sweeter when you win," Bailey said. "It's tough to come back and win hockey games when you're down that much. We battled, found a way to get our legs going, compete the rest of the way and make it close, but it's frustrating the way we let it get away."
Video: NYI@CBJ: Bailey scores on backhand for second of game
Bailey's second goal, a backhander he roofed past Sergei Bobrovsky, had the Islanders in a 3-3 tie, a gutsy rally after going down 3-0 in the first period. But the tie was short-lived, as Seth Jones beat Thomas Greiss on a three-on-one rush 1:11 later to make it 4-3. Nick Foligno made it 5-3, snapping the eventual winner past Greiss at 17:52 of the second period in what felt like a gut punch.
"It's a big goal to go down 4-3 after we had all that momentum," head coach Doug Weight said of the Jones goal. "It's extremely frustrating. There's nothing worse, you battle, scratch and claw and then the guys are dog tired. It's a shame."
Video: NYI@CBJ: Bailey scores PPG to complete hat trick
Weight said the Islanders still had time to come back down 5-3. Bailey was in the shooting hole on an offensive zone draw, scooped up a John Tavares faceoff win beat Bobrovsky with a wrister to make it 5-4 on the power play at 7:11 of the third. The Islanders pressed all the way till the end, but couldn't get the tying goal. Josh Anderson scored an empty-netter with one second left on the clock.
"In the second and third I thought we played well for the most part," Bailey said.
The Blue Jackets opened up a 3-0 lead in a lopsided first period. Zach Werenski and Markus Nutivaara scored on two of the Blue Jackets' first three shots, while Pierre-Luc Dubois scored a power-play goal at 15:52 of the opening frame.
Video: NYI@CBJ: Bailey toe drags, beats Bobrovsky
That could have been in for the Islanders, who had lost three straight at Nationwide Arena entering Thursday's game. They chipped away at the Blue Jackets lead. Bailey toe dragged Werenski and beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a changeup through his five-hole to get the Islanders on the board at the five-minute mark. Bailey's first goal ended a nearly three-game long shutout streak for the Islanders at Nationwide.
Casey Cizikas, who Doug Weight promoted to spark the team's third line, made it 3-2 2:49 later, banging in a Scott Mayfield rebound. Bailey roofed a backhander on Bobrovsky for his second of the night 13:52 to tie the score and get the Islanders back on even ground.
Greiss finished the game with 29 saves, while Bobrovsky made 21.
QUINE IN, BEAUVILLIER OUT:
Alan Quine drew back into the lineup on Thursday night, taking out Anthony Beauvillier. Quine last played on Dec. 5 against Tampa Bay, sitting out four straight games. The 24-year-old centered the Islanders fourth line with Jason Chimera and Cal Clutterbuck, while Casey Cizikas moved up between Brock Nelson and Josh Ho-Sang on the Isles third line.
The Islanders return home to face the LA Kings on Star Wars night this Saturday at 7 p.m.