The New York Islanders picked up a crucial point, but let an important one slip away, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at Nationwide Arena.
Ryan Strome put the Islanders up 3-1 a minute into the third period, but the Blue Jackets scored twice in the second half of the frame to force overtime. The Islanders killed off a 4-on-3 penalty in the sudden-death frame, but Mark Letestu and Ryan Johansen scored in the shootout, lifting Columbus to its eighth straight victory.
“It’s frustrating,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We had our chances, we just couldn’t bury it. You can’t fault the guys for their effort, but we just have to find a way to get the job done.”
The Islanders had several opportunities to put the game away in the third period. A bouncing puck foiled Strome’s shot at a second goal, as the Islanders winger put the unsettled puck off the inside of the post. Had Strome scored, the Islanders would have had a 4-1 lead.
“If I put that one in – it goes off both posts – maybe it’s a different game,” Strome said.
Instead, the Blue Jackets chipped away at the Islanders advantage, outshooting the Isles 14-12 in the third period. Jack Johnson chipped the puck past Jaroslav Halak in a goalmouth scramble at 11:08, while Johansen was the first to get to the puck sitting in the Islanders crease at 16:17 for the tying goal.
“On the tying goal, it hit about three guys and went to their guy,” said John Tavares, who had a goal and an assist Thursday. “Even the second one had eyes. It happens. We got a point, we deserved better. It’s just unfortunate.”
The Islanders did have another chance to put the game away late in the third period, earning a power play with two minutes to play. The Islanders pressed the Blue Jackets, but could not solve Sergei Bobrovsky on the man advantage.
“We had some good shots, but we just couldn’t seem to get some of those second and third opportunities,” Tavares said. “It was tough to make any passes, so we tried to simplify. We did everything but put it in.”
In overtime it was all Columbus, as the Blue Jackets utilized the momentum of an early power play, outshooting the Islanders 7-0 in the sudden death period.
The Islanders had scored early in all three regulation periods, never trailing in the game. Eric Boulton made his return to the lineup count, scoring 2:54 into the contest to give the Islanders the early lead. Boulton was initially denied by Bobrovsky, but followed up and poked his rebound underneath the Blue Jackets goaltender.
The Blue Jackets tied the score just over four minutes later, as Dalton Prout’s point shot deflected off Brandon Dubinsky’s leg and past Halak at 7:06.
Tavares reestablished the Islanders lead early in the second period with his 35th goal of the season, tipping a Johnny Boychuk slap shot past Bobrovsky at 2:03. Strome scored 55 seconds into the third period, knocking in a Travis Hamonic rebound on a rush started by Tavares.
Nick Leddy also had two points, assisting on Boulton and Tavares’ goals.
Halak made 32 saves in the shootout loss, while Bobrovskystopped 25 in the win. The Islanders penalty kill was a perfect 2-for-2, marking 21 straight kills on the road.
The Islanders return home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.