Skip to main content

Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets blank Islanders

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets knew they didn't have time to dwell on the past. They had to focus on the task at hand in this heated race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves, Mark Letestu and Boone Jenner each scored a goal and had an assist and the Blue Jackets defeated the rookie-laden New York Islanders 4-0 at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.

Columbus (40-31-7) is one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs trail the Blue Jackets by three points.

"We're two points closer to our goal," Letestu said.

The Blue Jackets rebounded from a tough 4-3 loss Friday when the Chicago Blackhawks scored the winner with 3.9 seconds left. The loss dropped the Blue Jackets to 2-4-1 in the past seven home games.

"You've got to learn to forget fast, especially the emotional loss against Chicago the other night," Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert said.

With the home finale Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes looming, the Blue Jackets needed a boost against the Islanders, who used 10 first-year players.

They got it with Columbus scoring three times on the power play, including twice in the first period, to back Bobrovsky's fifth shutout of the season and second in three games. He has nine for his career.

Bobrovsky was at his best during a 45-second sequence in the middle period when he was without his stick, and briefly his blocker, but made two saves.

The margin of victory was the largest for the Blue Jackets in 14 games since beating Detroit 4-1 on March 11, but Letestu said there was no time to relax in the third period.

"We were still sweating it," he said. "We've had some games here where we let it slip away. We were pretty focused on letting it happen."

Defensemen Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray had the other goals and Brandon Dubinsky had three assists to help Columbus to improve to 8-0-2 at home vs. the Islanders.

New York had a seven-game (5-0-2) point streak snapped and fell to 31-36-11.

"This is the first game I've felt collectively in a while we weren't there," New York defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "We've been playing some good hockey. This isn't acceptable no matter what lineup we have."

A big first period helped Blue Jackets overcome their recent shortcomings when they converted two power-play opportunities in the first.

Jenner scored his 14th, the second-most by a Columbus rookie after the 17 by Rick Nash in 2002-03, at 4:26.

Letestu had a shot from the right circle that Jenner tipped while stationed at the edge of the crease. The puck trickled through the pads of Nilsson and sat on the goal line for three seconds. That was long enough for Jenner to evade Hamonic and New York defenseman Kevin Czuczman and reach around Nilsson for the poke.

"I was just banging way. I figured it was kind of loose," Jenner said. "You could hear the crowd light up a little bit. Luckily I got to it first."

Johnson's fifth goal, first since Feb. 6, followed at 13:10 after he received a pass from defensive partner James Wisniewski. Johnson, a left-handed shot, fired a one-timer from the right dot that dinged the upper-left post.

New York coach Jack Capuano was unhappy with all facets of the penalty kill.

"I know we took some wrong routes," he said. "We weren't disciplined enough. I know they have a good power play, but that's not an excuse. That's the one thing we have with our personnel that we can do a better job of."

Columbus increased a 2-0 lead entering the second period with a goal by Letestu and a power-play goal by Murray to put the game away.

Letestu was on the receiving end of a Jenner set-up at 10:11. Letestu completed the give-go after Jenner's pass went through the legs of New York rookie defenseman Scott Mayfield, giving goalie Anders Nilsson (29 saves) no chance.

Mayfield, a second-round pick (No. 34) in 2011, made his NHL debut. He had two shots on goal, four hits and was a minus-1 in 17:04 of ice time.

"It was nice to get the experience and see what it's like and get that on out of the way," Mayfield said.

The goal was Letestu's first in 22 games. The rookie Murray also ended a drought, scoring for the first time in 39 games since Nov. 25 with a shot between the circles at 18:53.

Murray played his second game since missing 15 games after arthroscopic knee surgery.

"It was a 4-0 lead, but up to the third period I don't think we played very well outside of our goaltender and outside our power play being able to execute and score goals," Columbus coach Todd Richards said.

The Islanders had to reconfigure their lineup after another round of injuries caused the promotions Mayfield and forward Johan Sundstrom from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. New York lost forward Michael Grabner and defenseman Calvin de Haan to injuries in a loss Saturday to the Washington Capitals, adding to a list that already includes forwards John Tavares and Kyle Okposo and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.

"We've got some games left with these kids," Capuano said. "We're going to go out and try to teach structure and work hard."

After Tuesday, the Blue Jackets end the regular season on the road against the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

"It should be fun," Letestu said. "We seem not to do things the easy way. To get four [games] in five [nights] to finish it off is very Blue Jackets of us … doing things the hard way and probably earning our way into the playoffs."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.