NEW YORK — The Islanders picked up a point on Saturday, but a win against the Columbus Blue Jackets would have gone a long way.
Instead the Islanders played a poor two periods, before tying the game in the third and then ultimately falling to the Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime. It was Cam Atkinson who burst the Islanders bubble scoring the game-winning goal 1:19 into the extra period.
Brandon Dubinsky skated behind the Islanders net, drawing in Calvin de Haan, and fed Atkinson in front of the net for the game-winner. It was the culmination of a game that the Islanders managed to squeak out a point of despite being outplayed for the first 40 minutes.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Islanders 29-13 through the first two periods, but only lead 2-1.
“We didn’t deserve to be in the game,” Islanders interim coach Doug Weight said. “That’s what I said between periods is it’s 2-1, you guys should thank your lucky stars that we’re in the playoff race and it’s 2-1. We can win a game here with one good period, so I just didn’t recognize our team tonight.”
The Islanders were able to pull out a point from the loss and are even with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 78 points in the standings. The Leafs remain in the final wild card spot with two games in hand over the Islanders, and they are in action Saturday against Chicago.
“It wasn’t our best game again today and we just didn’t have a great week,” John Tavares said. “The loss still really stings. Just cause of how important it is and we’re really starting to get down to the wire here. We have to find another level and gain some more momentum… But a point is a point.”
Neither team generated too many quality chances in the first period, but the Islanders eventually did find a way to score at 14:18 of the first period. Travis Hamonic had just jumped onto the ice when Jason Chimera sent a pass to him at the point and he blasted the puck past Joonas Korpisalo.
It was the third consecutive home game that the Islanders had scored first, and the third consecutive one that they eventually ended up losing in spite of that. The Islanders held onto the lead after 20 minutes, despite being outshot and forcing Thomas Greiss to make several tough stops, but a minute into the second period Columbus tied the game.
Dennis Seidenberg lost his footing and coughed up the puck in the Islanders zone. Oliver Bjorkstrand picked up the puck and fired it past Greiss’ glove to even the score moments after the Islanders were stonewalled on the other end of the ice.
The Blue Jackets scored again in the final five minutes of the second period. Josh Anderson backhanded the puck past Greiss off a pass from Nick Foligno.
“They just were better than use in the first two periods,” Travis Hamonic said. “It’s a simple as that. We weren’t good enough and we picked it up in the third.”
New York did start the third with a bit more jump and the found a way to tie the game back up midway through the period. Tavares’ shot from the point made its way through traffic and into the net for the Islanders’ captain’s 27th goal of the season.