In Another Record-Setting Performance, Blue Jackets Shoot Their Way Past Islanders

Zach Werenski had three assists, the power play flexed their muscle with two goals, and the Blue Jackets set another season-high with 51 shots; defeat the New York Islanders 4-1.

Just 11 days ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets ascended upon Long Island with two previous wins against the New York Islanders so far this season. On that particular Saturday night, the Blue Jackets came out hot, setting a franchise-record, 26 first period shots. Though it was New York and goaltender Jaroslav Halak who came away victorious.

Over the last week, Columbus dropped two more games, twice to the Metropolitan division-leading Washington Capitals, before the teams’ shot-assault of the Devils paved the way for an offensive onslaught of six goals, the clubs’ first win since Jan. 25, and perhaps even more importantly, feeling good after a team-wide scoring contribution and much-needed win.

On the other side, the Islanders overcame long odds last Friday night, erasing a 5-2, third-period deficit against the visiting Detroit Red Wings, when the Islanders scored five, third-period goals, four on a five-minute major power play, before sealing the win with a 7-6 overtime victory.

Looking to keep the momentum moving, they fell short in Sunday’s affair with the Calgary Flames. Thus setting up arguably the biggest game of the year for both Columbus and New York, Tuesday was a classic division showdown and proverbial four-point game.

First Period

Just like the start of the game Feb. 3, Columbus kept up their shooting ways.

It was the Islanders who spent the first few minutes in the Jackets end zone, racking up the first three shots of the game before Columbus took over. Columbus had 16 of the next 18 shots on net, at one point firing off a stretch of nine-consecutive shots at Halak.

For the period, the Jackets outshot the Islanders 26-11, matching their franchise-record first-period output from their last meeting in Brooklyn. The Islanders won 20 of 24 faceoffs in the frame.

Things got testy in the latter stages of the first period.

Off a faceoff in the Blue Jackets zone, Zach Werenski and Casey Cizikas got into a shoving match off the draw and in front, to the right of Bobrovsky. Behind that ruckus, Jokinen made a grab for Cal Clutterbuck who was skating by, with Clutterbuck, in turn, taking exception before taking Jokinen down.

There were no penalties during those sequences.

Columbus had two first period power plays, which they failed to convert. The second opportunity was cut short as Jussi Jokinen went off for tripping, not long after the initial tussle with Clutterbuck.

This was the difference for the period, despite the Jackets dictating the shots, and much of the first period play. New York would score, taking the early 1-0 lead, and John Tavares scoring his team co-lead 29th goal, and 600th career point.

Bobrovsky made the initial stop of Anders Lee on his doorstep, but the puck trickled onto the blue, resting just outside the red line inside the crease, with Tavares stepping up to knock it through. Josh Bailey also had an assist.

Second Period

In the early moments of the second period, Artemi Panarin set up Pierre-Luc Dubois with a nice pass into the slot, off of Dubois’ skate, and all the while getting the shot off. But Halak was not fooled.

Columbus kept up their opportunities with the first seven shots, and they earned their third power play at 4:10 when Nick Leddy went off for delay of game.

With the first unit failing to generate much of anything offensively, the second unit came through, as Oliver Bjorkstrand ripped a slap shot past Halak to tie the score at 1-1, with nine seconds remaining on the power play. The goal is Bjorkstrand’s second in as many games, following a stretch of 13-consecutive games without a marker. Werenski and Dubois picked up assists.

The Islanders got their second power play at 15:49 but the Jackets penalty kill rose to the occasion, outshooting the Islanders power play unit 2-0. This time the Islanders power play was cut short with 11 seconds left as Brock Nelson was called for hooking.

On the power play, Dubois scored his 13th goal of the season, third in as many games, ringing one off the post, and giving the Jackets their first lead of the game. It’s Dubois’ fourth power-play goal of the season. Net-front presence was key on both Jackets’ goals with Josh Anderson right in front of Halak. Those little details. Werenski and Bjorkstrand assisted.

Markus Nutivaara left the game after taking a puck to the face but later returned. The Jackets had 41 shots through two periods, and the edge, 15-6, in the second.

Third Period

Just like their last game against the Islanders, the Blue Jackets entered the third clinging to a one-goal lead. And Bobrovsky came up huge early to keep that lead intact.

The Islanders nearly tied the game when Jack Johnson lost the puck behind Bobrovsky’s net, and Jordan Eberle worked a one-handed pass to Anthony Beauvillier in the slot, which was snared by Bobrovsky.

New York was testing Bobrovsky in the third, and the Islanders are second in the NHL with 71 third period goals.

But for the Jackets, looking to keep their foot on the gas pedal, the much-needed insurance goal came by way of Brandon Dubinsky on a wrap-around at 6:01. Boone Jenner, who had his back to the play with Nelson trailing him, was able to muscle the puck along the boards to feed Dubinsky behind the net. Jenner picks up his 11th assist of the season, and third in the last two games. Josh Anderson earned his second point in as many games.

Only 43 seconds later, Cam Atkinson pushed his point-streak against the Islanders to 10, and more importantly, gave Columbus a rare three-goal cushion. Panarin fed Atkinson with the cross-ice pass as Atkinson glided in, lifting the puck over Halak. The offensive play was, again, developed by Werenski at the other end, as he worked his career-high third assist of the evening.

It’s Atkinson’s first goal since his last one against the Islanders Feb. 3. From the Islanders threatening to tie, to suddenly down three. Where has that been?

As the third period wound down, the Blue Jackets, up three, and with Bobrovsky making his true-to-form saves, the club picked up the 4-1 win. The Jackets take the season-series against the Islanders, winning three out of four, and pick up a critical two points in the Metropolitan division.

Tuesday’s win marks Columbus’ first win at the Islanders in regulation since Nov. 29, 2002. Columbus is 6-2-0 against the Islanders since the start of last season.

For the second-consecutive game, the Blue Jackets record 50 shots on net, with the 51 shots on Tuesday night marking a season-high. The consecutive games with at least 50 shots on goal is a franchise-record. Werenski had a game-high six shots on net and the team defense had 18 shots.

Columbus now heads over the border to face off with the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night from Air Canada Centre.

The Blue Jackets are 2-0 against the Maple Leafs this season, including the wild, come-from-behind, 3-2 overtime win Jan 8. Columbus has won two-straight games for the first time since Jan. 7-8, and try to make it three-straight for the first time since Nov. 20-24, part of their season-high six-game winning streak.

Additional Notes

The Islanders came in with only three wins in their last 10 home outings. The Blue Jackets went 5-for-11 on the power play versus the Islanders this season. New York is now 17-5-1 when scoring first and 14-2-1 when leading after one period. Cam Atkinson now has seven goals, five assists in his last 10 games against the Islanders. After winning 20 of 24 first period faceoffs, the Islanders won 42 of 67 faceoffs for the game.

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