The big news for the Blue Jackets tonight? Sonny Milano!! Yes, the 19 year old rookie made his much anticipated debut with the big club tonight against the New York Islanders. And, despite admitting after the game that he was definitely nervous before the game (and can you blame him?), he really looked like he belonged on the ice.
In other team news, Ryan Murray would play despite feeling ill pregame. Nick Foligno would move to center in an attempt to jump start the struggling captain so that he could have something to build on next season. Dean Kukan was also recalled with Fedor Tyutin failing to make the trip to Columbus.
How would the kids play? Let’s find out.
FIRST PERIOD- WELP
Suffice to say, the first period could have gone much better than it did. Columbus actually opened the scoring, with Brandon Dubinsky ending his goalscoring drought at 4:14. After that, however, the period was all Islanders. John Tavares and Thomas Hickey both scored on 2 on 1 rushes. In addition, Tavares scored his second of the night when a long rebound bounces off of the end boards behind Bobrovsky, and Tavares was able to gather the loose puck and fire it home. The Islanders led 3-1 after the first frame. Columbus skated well, but were unable to find any ability to put shots on net- the team generated just 2 shots on Thomas Griess, or one fewer shot than the Islanders had goals. The Jackets ended the period on a penalty kill, as Dalton Prout went off for high sticking after a scrum with Anders Lee.
SECOND PERIOD- I GUESS SOME THINGS HAPPENED
I’ll be honest- during the storm last night, my cable cut out and I missed a solid ten minutes of this period after the penalty kill succeeded. If twitter is any indication, however, I didn’t miss much. Picking up at the 14:20 mark, the Blue Jackets would see a power play chances as Mike Martin went off for interference and roughing, while Scott Hartnell would go for roughing. Brandon Saad, with his 25th of the season, was able to draw the Jackets within one as Greiss allowed an absolutely brutally soft goal through his legs. Hey, they all count the same.
THIRD PERIOD- ALMOST ONLY COUNTS IN HORSESHOES AND HAND GRENADES
37 seconds into the period, Boone Jenner scored his 29th (!) of the season and drew the Jackets level. Boone has played exceptionally well this whole season. I hope that kid’s here for a long time. Minutes later, however, the Jackets would surrender the lead for good. With David Savard off for tripping at 4:14, Anders Lee scored a controversial go ahead goal. It might have been goaltender interference, it might have been kicked in- it didn’t matter. The goal stood, and the Islanders took a 4-3 lead. Columbus pushed hard, pulling Bobrovsky with a power play in the final minutes, but could not find the equalizer tonight.
New York Islanders 4 Columbus Blue Jackets 3
Sonny Milano did not look rattled out there. Might he have looked like a 19 year old in his NHL debut? Sure. But he (and, frankly, Oliver Bjorkstrand as well) both have shown glimpses of the offensive ability they possess and that the big club SORELY lacks.
Per Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets have lost 4 in a row in regulation since 0-8-0, and lost 7 straight on the road by a cumulative score of 24-8. Porty also mentioned that Foligno, despite scoring 11 power play goals last season, has just 9 total this year, none on the power play. Unacceptable.
Here’s hoping the team finds something to build on the rest of the year. The play of the youth is encouraging. Brandon Dubinsky is never going to take a night off. Where are, well, any of the rest of the veterans? Outside of Dubinsky, no one over the age of 25 did anything worth noting last night.
Columbus currently sits 28th in the league with 68 points, 1 ahead of Toronto and Edmonton (though the Oilers have played 2 more games- 79 to Columbus’ 77). Vancouver and Winnipeg, both of whom have 69 points, have played 77 games as well.
The Blue Jackets continue their road trip in Carolina, taking on the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Faceoff is at 7:00 EST.