The win pulls the Isles to two points back of Columbus (not that it matters) after the first half of a home-and-home series with their fellow Metropolitan limbo dwellers.
Brock Nelson continued his blazing year with his 32nd goal of the season — and 200th regular season goal of his career — while Anthony Beauvillier and Zach Parise each notched their 11th.
After conceding the first goal seven minutes into the game, the Isles scored four straight across the next two periods to take a 4-1 lead. But even with that three-goal lead at the halfway point of the game, things did not feel comfortable and Varlamov was called to stop the bleeding on multiple occasions.
The Islanders were outshot 16-3 in the third period, and the times Varlamov saved the day are too numerous to recount here.
But, they head back to the Island with a chance to sweep and tie Columbus in the standings. So there’s that.
Brock Nelson takes advantage of a power play opening, tying the game 1-1 at 11:47:
Nelson nets his 32nd goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/Bax3T5mvSR— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 29, 2022
Less than four minutes later, J-G Pageau gained the zone, slammed on the brakes and found Josh Bailey in the slot:
Early in the second, after Nelson narrowly missed scoring again from one side, Anthony Beauvillier’ buried it from a low angle:
After good offensive zone possession, Parise tapped in a sweeeet backdoor pass from Noah Dobson:
Goal #️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ for #️⃣1️⃣1️⃣! pic.twitter.com/bm0xts7puY— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 30, 2022
“For him [Dobson] to recognize that, see me on the back side, was a world class play.” - Parise on his goal.— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 30, 2022
More from Parise and Lee ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/MXZm7Vzc67
But Vladislav Gavrikov (who has a terrifically melodic name) scored his second of the game four minutes later, bringing the Blue Jackets back to within two and putting the rest of the game at risk of getting too close.
Just 4:30 into the third, it got too close.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, a certified Islanders Killer, scored soon after Varlamov had robbed Son of Sillinger.
Even when the Isles got a whistle, they’d go back to giving Columbus too much time. One of Varlamov’s better moments was when Jakub Voracek was fed all alone in behind the Isles defense and Varly pokechecked him to prevent a golden chance. Even then, the Isles hacked and stumbled before finally getting a clear. It was a tad frustrating to watch.
“It says a lot about our group. They try every night and give their best. A lot of credit to the guys. They are focused on rest, recovery and playing.”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 30, 2022
Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/HfJuUwG8oe
The Refs Fall to Peer Pressure
As if the Islanders weren’t trying to shoot themselves in the foot hard enough, the refs stepped in, with an assist from the Columbus crowd. With 2:35 to go and clinging to a one-goal lead, Beauvillier lifted his stick to reach at Sillinger inside the blueline. He might have made the lightest of contact, but Sillinger either dived or toe-picked to recreate the Bobby Orr Cup-winning goal.
The refs did nothing...until, well after the Isles had the puck, and with fans reacting and Blue Jackets raising their arms, one of the refs decided to call a penalty.
The Isles narrowly killed that one off, much thanks to Varly. The refs then did a meaningless makeup call, an offensive zone penalty on Patrik Laine with 21 seconds to go. Thanks, guys.
Ross Johnston was out and Sebastian Aho was still banged up, so Kieffer Bellows slotted in and Grant Hutton got his second game in a row after an emergency callup. The latter two and Oliver Wahlstrom had the three lowest ice times.
Parise killed 3:17 of Columbus PP time.
Zdeno Chara logged 20:22, 2:35 of it on the PK.
The rematch is Thursday in Elmont.