The Columbus Blue Jackets entered Tuesday’s game winners of two straight games for the first time in 2017. The New York Islanders had a four-game point streak. After a promising first period, the Jackets disappointed during the final 40 minutes as they lost to the Islanders 4-2.
For the first time since the streak ended, the Blue Jackets entered Tuesday night’s game with some positive vibes. After 20 minutes, early returns were encouraging.
The CBJ controlled play for much of the first period. It was one Seth Jones shift around the mid-way point, however, that really stuck out. With the line of Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, and Cam Atkinson on the ice, the Jackets cycled well in the offensive zone with the defensive pairing of Zach Werenski and Seth Jones keeping the puck in the zone when needed. After about 50 seconds, that line went off for a line change while Seth Jones, taking on three or four Islanders by himself, pinned the puck against the boards until the next line could get on the ice.
With Alexander Wennberg, Nick Foligno, and Brandon Saad now on, the cycling of the puck continued as Jones and Werenski finally got a break of their own. At the 8:55 mark of the first, nearly 90 seconds after the CBJ possession in the offensive zone began, Ryan Murry sent a shot on net that deflected off Wennberg in front of goaltender Thomas Greiss, trickled towards the goal line, then was sent home by Foligno. It was the terrific effort by Seth Jones that allowed that play to happen to put the Jackets up 1-0.
After the conclusion of the first period, CBJ captain Nick Foligno described the results:
That’s the way we have to play, but it’s not good enough for one period…it’s gotta continue throughout the next one, it’s gotta be the next one, it’s gotta be 20 games from now.
That message apparently didn’t sink in for the team as a whole.
The second period saw the New York Islanders tie the game then take the lead. A little over two minutes in, John Tavares had a pass deflect off Seth Jones and into the net to tie the game at one. Later on at 16:29, Nikolay Kulemin chipped a rebound past Sergei Bobrovsky, who had a ton of traffic around him to make it 2-1 Islanders.
After being outshot 12-6 by the Islanders in the second period, Nick Foligno described the team’s play as “stale.”
Sergei Bobrovsky, who couldn’t exactly be blamed for the two goals in the second period, unraveled in the third. Just 35 seconds into the final period, Brock Nelson got a wrist shot past Bob high-glove side. He may have been screened a bit, but that’s a shot that Bobrovsky saves more often than not. Less than five minutes later, former Blue Jacket Jason Chimera got a similar shot past Bobrovsky, this time with even less of a screen in front. Head coach John Tortorella had seen enough and sent in Joonas Korpisalo to relieve Bob after he allowed four straight goals.
Cam Atkinson added his team leading 24th goal with 5:21 remaining in the period to bring the Jackets to within two. With the net empty and an extra attacker on the ice, the Jackets were unable to get any closer as the final horn blew. Islanders win 4-2.
When asked about the late push by the team in the third period, Nick Foligno said:
There’s no reason in the position that we’re in that we should be playing like that only with 10 minutes to go…we have not done anything this year. Contrary to a good start, games get harder, the league gets harder, and no one cares anymore.
Brandon Dubinsky echoed similar thoughts about not resting on their laurels.
We gotta play with more desperation as a group. We can’t, you know, kinda be fat and happy looking at ourselves and where we’re at and how good we’ve played those first 40 games or so.
We’re in the dog-days of the season right now, so the All Star break cannot come soon enough for the CBJ who could desperately use a few days off. There’s no rest yet for the Blue Jackets, who will attempt to regroup in time for Thursday’s matchup against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.