Jack Capuano wanted more secondary scoring from his club and he got it Saturday night, as the Islanders downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 at Nationwide Arena.
Nikolay Kulemin, Matt Martin, Anders Lee, Brian Strait and Kyle Okposo scored, while Ryan Strome and Thomas Hickey each finished the game with two assists, giving the Islanders a balanced attack. In the process, the Islanders picked up their first regulation win in Columbus (they scored an OT win on Mar. 27, 2010) and improved to 4-2 on their current seven-game win streak.
“We came out from start to finish, really had our legs under us, moved the puck and played well,” Capuano said. “Breakouts were good, entries were good. We just gained momentum as the game went on.”
The Islanders set the tone right away, scoring on the first shift of the game. Kulemin deflected a Calvin de Haan wrist shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 31 seconds. The Islanders finished the period with a 16-4 shot advantage, but Jack Johnson’s power-play goal evened the score at one before the intermission.
The Islanders broke through in the second period, scoring three goals in a 7:27 span to take a 4-1 lead. Matt Martin put the Islanders ahead 2-1 at 10:04, driving to the net with his stick on the ice and touching a Strome pass past Bobrovsky. Three-and-a-half minutes later, a skipping puck at the Jackets blue line gave Lee an uncontested breakaway. Lee made no mistake, deking to the backhand and sliding the puck five-hole on Bobrovsky. Strait made it 4-1 at 17:31, as his shot deflected off Ryan Johansen’s stick and past Bobrovsky.
“If you throw the puck to the net, good things happen,” Strait, who finished the game with two points, said.
The Blue Jackets made a push early in the third, as Nick Foligno buried a rebound 3:33 into the final frame. That was as close as the Jackets would come, as Okposo padded the Islanders lead with 5:06 to play in the third. Okposo attempted a pass on a two-on-one with John Tavares, but the blocked pass came back onto his stick before he batted his ninth past Bobrovsky.
Chad Johnson started the second game of this weekend’s back-to-back set, earning his first win since Nov. 21.
“I felt good the last three games, just kind of got some unlucky bounces and just couldn’t get the two points,” Johnson said. “For me, it was just good to get the win. Tonight felt good and I just want to build off it.”
His counterpart, Bobrovsky, stopped 35-of-40 shots in the loss.
The two points keep the Islanders atop the Metropolitan Division. The road trip concludes close to home Tuesday night, as the Islanders take on the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.