Winners of seven in a row, the Jackets looked to continue their run of hot play at home against the Islanders. The Jackets have been playing the role of spoiler lately, beating some elite teams and in doing so, have helped to alter the seedings among the playoff teams.
The CBJ were shot out of a cannon to start the game (ahem) and were clearly trying to shove the Islanders' speed game back down their throats. It was working too, until an unlucky breakdown led to the road team opening the scoring.
The Islanders deployed their fourth line to face the Jackets' top line, and as the Jackets countered to put their fourth line out to match, Casey Cizikas carried the puck down the right wing, with Mark Letestu trailing. Cizikis turned behind the net, sending the puck to the slot, where Letestu was a half-second late in arriving to stop Eric Boulton from getting a shot off on Columbus starter Sergei Bobrovsky. The initial save was made, but as Bob was sprawled on his back, Boulton poked the puck into the net.
1-0 Islanders: Eric Boulton - Casey Cizikas, Nick Leddy
The pace was quick in the first period, with very few whistles. The Isles were showcasing their speed, but the Jackets were able to hang on, despite their inability to match that speed. The Jackets are an opportunistic bunch, and were able to capitalize a few minutes later.
Artem Anisimov worked behind Islanders starter Jaroslav Halak, keeping possession behind the goal line. The puck made its way to Brandon Dubinsky who fed Dalton Prout at the point. Prout sent a wrist shot on-net, where it glanced off Dubinsky and into the net. The goal was initially credited to Prout, but was later changed to Dubinsky. It would have been Prout's first goal of the season.
1-1: Brandon Dubinsky - Dalton Prout, Artem Anisimov
The Jackets followed up with a great shift by their fourth line, with Letestu and Matt Calvert almost coming together on a goal. After the last game, where that duo was combined with Jeremy Morin, Letestu discussed publicly about his excitement of playing with more skilled linemates, and again we were able to see what he could due when he wasn't anchored down. Jared Boll was back on the fourth line tonight to replace Morin, who had moved up to take the spot of Marko Dano: a healthy scratch. It was evident that Boll was along for the ride when the fourth line was out there. This writer is hoping that Dano received his message, and the Calvert-Letestu-Morin line is reunited for the remainder of the season. Seeing Boulton in the lineup would normally mean that Boll could be counted on for a fight to spark his team if required, but skill won the day and the puck work of Letestu and Calvert offered up a greater boost to the Jackets.
It was the Islanders that came out strong to start the next period, and they were rewarded for their hard work at the 2:03 mark. Defenseman Nick Leddy was deep in the Columbus zone, behind the goal line, and sent a pass to his defense partner Johnny Boychuk at the right point. Boychuk's slapper was saved by Bobrovsky, but John Tavares was there to redirect the puck into the net.
2-1 Islanders: John tavares - Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy
It's been talked about almost all season, but man, major kudos to Islanders GM Garth Snow for acquiring these two blueliners early in the season. The boost this duo has given the Isles is immeasurable.
With 11:06 left in the second, the game saw its first penalty when Josh Bailey was sent to the box for hooking. The Jackets couldn't solve Halak, however.
Outside of a late Islanders powerplay (a bad high-sticking call on Boone Jenner), the remainder of the second period was free-flowing and fast.
The Islanders came out flying again to start the final frame, and again were rewarded with a goal. In the first minute Tavares entered the CBJ zone with speed, pulling up, before dropping the puck back to Travis Hamonic. Hamonic blasted a shot from the point, and though Bobrovsky made the initial save the rebound was deposited into the net by Ryan Strome.
3-1 Islanders: Ryan Strome - Travis Hamonic, John Tavares
Moments later, Strome almost scored his second of the game, firing a Tavares pass past Bobrovsky, but the puck found iron.
Unlike the first two periods, the third period was plodding, full of whistles and stoppages. The Jackets weren't backing down however, steadily increasing their pressure. The trio of Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell and Alexander Wennberg offered up a terrific shift, culminating in a goal to cut the lead to one goal. The goal was scored by Jack Johnson, his third game in a row with a goal.
3-2 Islanders: Jack Johnson - Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell
The Johnson goal was the tonic the Jackets needed to finally hit their top gear. It was all CBJ from that point, After Jenner battled for the puck behind the Isles' net, the puck made its way to David Savard at the point, who fired a wrister on-net. The puck deflected off of Thomas Hickey, and Ryan Johansen was able to slide the loose puck into the net to tie the game with 3:37 remaining.
With exactly two minutes remaining in regulation, the Isles were given a gift, thanks to a missed call. Cody Goloubef cleared the back out of the defensive zone, banking the puck off the glass. It was clearly audible in the broadcast that the puck hit the glass before going into the stands, yet he was given a delay-of-game penalty anyway, despite a conference between the officials to confirm the play. The Jackets were able to gut out the crucial penalty kill, sending the game to overtime.
Just 22 seconds into the extra frame, the Jackets were given their own golden opportunity to ice the game on the man advantage, when Boychuk was called for dropping Dubinsky in front of the Islander net. Despite the 4-on-3 shooting gallery, the Jackets were unable to solve Halak. Shots were 7-0 for the CBJ before the horn sounded.
In the shootout, the Jackets elected to shoot first, sending out Mark Letestu who made no mistake in giving his team the early lead. Frans Nielsen was the first shooter for the Isles, but was stopped by Bobrovsky. Ryan Johansen was up next, scoring on his patented outwait-the-goalie move. Bobrovsky slammed the door on Kyle Okposo to give the Jackets the victory.
FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Jackets (SO)
- Such a gutty performance by the Jackets. Despite being down two goals early in the third period, they never gave up and stole another victory from a playoff-bound team. The victory was the Jackets' eighth in a row.
- All four lines contributed in some way tonight. The team's depth when healthy was evident tonight. Add Clarkson and the recently-hot Rene Bourque up front, and this team has the potential to do damage next season.
- Give Jack Johnson credit. Not only has he been scoring goals lately, but he's been scoring crucial goals.