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Blue Jackets rally, beat Islanders in shootout

by Staff /

The Columbus Blue Jackets rebounded from having their home opener spoiled by doing the same thing to the New York Islanders.

Cam Atkinson scored the winner in fourth round of the shootout as the Blue Jackets rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period for a 3-2 victory Saturday night, spoiling the evening for the sellout crowd of 16,170 that welcomed the Islanders back to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

After Columbus' Mark Letestu scored in the second round of the shootout and Matt Moulson tied on the Islanders' third chance, Atkinson got the winner in the fourth round when he deked Evgeni Nabokov, went around him and slid the puck into the net.

"Tonight was a full team effort, and we got the job done," Atkinson said. "Now we have to keep it going. We played Blue Jackets hockey."

The teams have met 15 times since Columbus entered the NHL in 2000. This was the 14th time the Blue Jackets have gotten at least one point (10-1-1-3).

John Tavares, who admittedly had a poor game in Friday's 4-3 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils in Newark, set up second-period goals by Lubomir Visnovsky and Moulson to put New York ahead 2-0 after two periods. But Letestu's power-play goal 7:45 into the third period gave the Blue Jackets some life, and Nick Foligno tied the game with 8:06 remaining in regulation.

“I was a little disappointed in the third period,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “Things were going well until they ramped it up and we didn't respond collectively as a group the way we needed to.”

The Blue Jackets, who lost 4-3 to the Calgary Flames on Friday night at Nationwide Arena, needed a great pad save by Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky on Frans Nielsen in the final five seconds of regulation to secure a point.

Nabokov then denied Columbus a victory in overtime by robbing Letestu and Jack Johnson after New York failed to convert on a late power play that carried into the extra period. Nabokov also denied R.J. Umberger from the lower right circle with 90 seconds left in OT.

Bobrovsky finished with 28 saves through 65 minutes. Nabokov stopped 27 shots.

"We pull for each other," Foligno said. "We played hard, the way we expect to play every night. We were rewarded for it. We kept pressing and wound up with a great result."

Though both teams played Friday, the first 10 minutes were played at a breakneck pace, though neither managed much in the way of scoring chances. Columbus had its best opportunity of the period just after the halfway mark when it wound up with a 2-on-1, but Nabokov cut the angle and gobbled up Johansen's wrister from the lower right circle. The first 20 minutes ended up scoreless, with the Islanders outshooting Columbus 9-4.

New York picked up its play early in the second period. Colin McDonald missed the top right corner after being left wide-open in the slot, but New York continued to press the action, controlled the puck in the offensive zone for nearly a minute and earned the game's first power play when Artem Anisimov went off for hooking Michael Grabner at 6:49.

That turned into the first goal of the game when Visnovsky played catch with Nielsen before stepping into a straightaway 50-footer. With Moulson creating a screen, the puck sailed past Bobrovsky at 8:17 for the veteran defenseman's first goal of the season. Tavares, who started the play by digging the puck out of a tangle behind the Columbus net, earned the second assist for his 250th NHL point.

The goaltenders then exchanged big saves. Nabokov robbed Johansen from the slot with just over nine minutes left in the period, and Bobrovsky slid across his crease to deny Tavares' try though the five-hole on the return rush.

Tavares and Moulson, one of the NHL's best two-man combinations for the past few years, showed their chemistry on New York's second goal at 14:01. Tavares fought off a defender in the corner to the left of Bobrovsky and fired a no-look backhand pass to the slot; Moulson slid away from his defender in the slot and was wide-open for the tape-to-tape pass. He made a quick deke before sliding a backhander into the wide-open net for his first of the season.

“It was good work by Kyle [Okposo] on the wall,” Tavares said. “He was doing some battling. It was kind of a broken play off the faceoff. Lubo made a good play to keep it in and it's pretty easy to know where Matty is. I thought I could surprise the D and I just tried to get it on his tape.”

The Blue Jackets, who managed only 12 shots through two periods, got their first power play of the game 6:03 into the final period when Travis Hamonic was called for high-sticking Marian Gaborik, and like the Islanders, they converted. Columbus kept the puck in the zone for nearly a full minute before Letestu beat Nabokov with a high snap shot from the slot off a broken play after New York's penalty-killers had blocked three shots.

That goal appeared to invigorate the Blue Jackets, who began to control more of the play and got even when Johansen crashed the net and was credited with the tying goal when the puck appeared to go into the net off Islanders forward Peter Regin.

“We were too cautious,” Nabokov said. “They got the momentum after they scored that power-play goal. They kept coming and got a little bit lucky.”

Material from team media was used in this report.

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