The Islanders squared off with the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight, in a match of Metro division teams. Columbus is doing rather well in the standings, but there is some debate as to whether they are Actually Good, or just riding a high PDO. Both teams came into tonight's matchup riding point streaks: the Islanders at 6, the Blue Jackets at 7.
Because skill is evidently a secondary requirement to be in the Islanders lineup, Anthony Beauvillier returned to the press box as Ryan Strome returned from flu-like symptoms.
First Period: Isles control play, period ends tied
Josh Bailey's stick got on a pass from Sam Gagner in his own zone and it somehow flew across the zone and past Sergei Bobrovsky. David Savard, who was bruising Brock Nelson's back during the play, gave John Tavares a two-hander to the leg after the goal was scored. Tavares looked hurt, but was able to get up and continue playing.
Savard seemed to come into tonight's game angry, and after Jason Chimera finished his check, he gave him an extra shove and got into another pissing match with Thomas Hickey, earning himself a spot in the penalty box.
Ironically, Savard is called for slashing.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 11, 2016
There was not a lot of action on the power play, though, and it was negated when Andrew Ladd thought he could get away with a moving pick on a zone entry.
The Blue Jackets came into the evening with the league's top-performing power play, and they had a decent chance or two but were unable to remember how many players are supposed to be on the ice. John Tortorella was very pleased, as he always is.
This is truly bewildering, but the Islanders were unable to finish off their power play, as Tavares took a necessary hooking penalty to prevent a breakaway chance. The abbreviated Columbus power play was a successful one, though. Calvin de Haan's stick broke, and even though Casey Cizikas was able to pass his stick off to de Haan, the Islanders were unable to reset, and Jack Johnson sent a point shot whizzing past Jaroslav Halak, with the help of Cal Clutterbuck's stick.
Shortly thereafter, Gagner and Brandon Dubinsky played catch in front of Halak, but were rejected by the stick of Johnny Boychuk. Still, Columbus gained control of the game toward the end of the first after the Islanders had a wonderful start.
[Irrelevant side note: Folks, the Colorado Avalanche gave up six (6!)(!)(!!!!!!!) goals in the first period to the Montreal Canadiens. They may actually be worse than us, and that's not just including tonight, so you can hang your hat on that.]
In the final minute of the period, Travis Hamonic found himself in another fight, this time with Dubinsky. It was more of a tango then a duel, but it was in response to Dubinsky giving Hamonic a can-opener, and teammates are always appreciative of a player defending himself.
Second Period: Blue Jackets control play, period ends tied
Halak knocked a rebound behind the net to Matt Calvert, who tried to wrap it around to the other side, but Halak reflexively stuck his toe out against the post and prevented a sure goal.
Cam Atkinson was the beneficiary of a poor Islanders change and a good stretch pass from Jack Johnson, roofing a forehand shot past Halak while being followed by Dennis Seidenberg. Hamonic was supposedly livid on the bench.
The period was all Columbus, as the Islanders lacked any of the punch displayed in the first. They were passive, and arguably lazy, as evidenced by both the change that lead to the second Blue Jackets goal, as well as a poor change on the shift before that allowed Bobrovsky to flick the puck to Gagner for a chance.
Luckily for us, we have John Tavares. He retrieved a loose puck deep in the Isles zone and carried it over the blue line. After dumping it off, he skated to the front of the net and a Hamonic shot from the point was deflected. Bobrovsky got his body on the initial tip, but Tavares recovered another loose puck, sent a shot off the leg of Bobrovsky, and lifted his own rebound over the outstretched goalie. The captain is on a tear, scoring in three straight contests on three lovely individual efforts.
Casey Cizikas roughed up Alex Wennberg, giving the Jackets another power play opportunity. They had a few chances toward the end of it as the Isles struggled to clear, a common theme on the PK this season. Clutterbuck and Ladd nearly had a 2-on-1 chance, but Clutterbuck's toe-drag was broken up by Gagner.
As the period ended, Seidenberg caught an elbow from Boone Jenner that went uncalled, but Tavares was called for "hooking," a call that perplexed Brendan Burke as well as Arthur Staple, who was on fire tonight.
Tavares called for hooking Calvert with 1.9 left in 2nd. Stick check. Wow.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 11, 2016
(Update on that Colorado-Montreal game: 9-1 Montreal after two. Good golly.)
Third Period: Columbus "blows it up"
The Islanders began the period killing off Tavares' penalty. They had a decent kill, but after the penalty expired, Nick Leddy threw the puck directly at Josh Anderson hopping over the boards. Halak was not expecting the shot, and the Jackets were up 3-2. It was, um, not good.
The Isles must really enjoy that blasted cannon (haha), because then they allowed Brandon Saad to send a one-timer from the slot and Halak wasn't able to get his arm on it. They would have to battle back from two down.
They did not seem in the mood to do such a thing, though, and they continued to not play up to the standard they displayed in the first.
Boychuk took a long shot off his hand, and while he winced, Columbus recovered the loose puck down low. Travis Sedlak got his second goal, effectively ending the game with about six minutes remaining. Boychuk would not return for the rest of the evening.
Just for good measure, Seth Jones fired a slapper from the point past Halak to make it 6-2 Columbus. His night ended five minutes early, and Jean-Francois Berube made his first on-ice appearance of the season.
A delay-of-game penalty was taken when Atkinson sent the puck over the glass, but the Islanders had long checked out by then. Their six-game point streak would come to a disappointing end.
The Islanders take on the Washington Capitals for the second time in a week and a half on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center. Halak stole them a game last game the two teams met, but after tonight, it's possible that Jack Capuano goes with Thomas Greiss in the next contest.
(Oh, and the Canadiens won 10-1!)
Well, if you stayed in to watch this one, you made a poor choice. I'm right there with ya, folks. Go enjoy your Saturday nights.