The New York Islanders entered the third period tied 2-2, but gave up the go-ahead goal early in the final frame and fell 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night.
R.J. Umberger scored the game-winner 27 seconds into the stanza, deflecting home a power-play goal.
“We have to be better in the third period,” Frans Nielsen said. “Right now the small, cute plays aren’t working. We have to start from scratch, get the puck deep, work harder and play simpler.”
Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky each had a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets, who ended a five-game losing streak. The Blue Jackets now lead the season series 2-0-0.
The Islanders lost the special-teams battle, giving up two power-play goals and going 0-1 with the man advantage.
“We didn’t play a smart game at all,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We turned pucks over, we didn’t stop on pucks, (we were) sloppy.”
The Islanders were also victims of a few bad bounces, as the Blue Jackets opened the scoring with a strange power-play goal. Brandon Dubinsky’s backhander found its way through traffic, deflected off the far post and hit Evgeni Nabokov before it crossed the goal line at 6:25 of the first period.
The Islanders answered in the final minute of the first, as Nielsen picked up his team-leading ninth goal of the season. The Danish center put a wrister through a screen that trickled through Sergei Bobrovsky with 34 seconds left to tie the score at one.
The Isles couldn’t carry the momentum of the late goal into the second period, as the Blue Jackets struck first in the middle frame. Johansen had a breakaway from center ice and made no mistake, deking backhand-to-forehand and going high glove on Nabokov.
After Umberger’s go-ahead tally, Cam Atkinson put the Blue Jackets up 4-2 at 3:24 of the third and James Wisniewski added an empty-netter at 18:52. Bobrovsky made 24 saves in the win, while Nabokov turned aside 24-of-28 for the Islanders.
The Islanders top line was dealt a blow early, as Thomas Vanek (upper body) left the game after just 23 seconds with an upper-body injury and did not return.
The Islanders wrap up their four-game road trip Sunday night in Montreal. Puck drop from the Bell Centre is at 6:00 p.m.
Notes: Travis Hamonic appeared in his 200th career NHL game, all with the Islanders. The 23-year-old defenseman played his first game on Nov. 24, 2010 at home against the Blue Jackets... Hamonic led the team with 24:20 TOI and four shots… Matt Martin matched his season high with eight hits.
Blue Jackets Lines:
Brandon Dubinsky – Ryan Johansen – Cam Atkinson
R.J. Umberger – Artem Anisimov – Marian Gaborik
Derek MacKenzie – Mark Letestu – Blake Comeau
Sean Collins – Michael Chaput – Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin – Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray – James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin – Dalton Prout