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Islanders 4, Blue Jackets 3: Varlamov holds the lead as Isles hang on

Brock Nelson stayed hot with his 200th goal, and Varly simply wouldn’t let them throw it away.

New York Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets
Thank you, these two points are yours.
Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Islanders rode four unanswered goals and 42 Semyon Varlamov saves to a narrow 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

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.

[NHL Gamecenter | Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

Goal Highlights

Brock Nelson takes advantage of a power play opening, tying the game 1-1 at 11:47:

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:

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.

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.

Lineup Notes

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.

Up Next

The rematch is Thursday in Elmont.