Isles try to regain footing as Blue Jackets visit
The New York Islanders find themselves losing ground in the Metropolitan Division standings, but they hope that's the only thing they lost over the weekend.
The Islanders (39-22-7, 85 points) host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nassau Coliseum on Monday night. The meeting is the third of the season between the division rivals, with the Islanders claiming wins in the first two.
But with its 5-2 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, New York dropped to 2-3-0 in its last five games, a stretch in which the club has been outscored 18-13.
The second-place Islanders, who trail the Washington Capitals for the division's top spot, have been without forward Cal Clutterbuck for the last three games, and they may be without a top defenseman against the Blue Jackets.
Blueliner Johnny Boychuk took a hard, high hit from Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek early in the third period in Saturday's loss. The Flyers forward received a major penalty for interference but no misconduct penalty, angering Islanders coach Barry Trotz and his club, and Boychuk left with a shoulder injury.
Boychuk played just 14:54 -- he left the ice yelling and pointing at Voracek -- and his loss would create a big hole in the defensive corps.
The Islanders, who have sat atop the Metro for most of the 2019 calendar year, understand the significance of letting games get away from them at this time of the season.
"It's not something we're taking lightly," said captain Anders Lee after the loss. "We just have to find a way to regroup tomorrow. We have a huge 1/8game 3/8 on Monday.
"This one is obviously awful. It stinks."
Columbus (38-27-3, 79 points) notched a much-needed win on Saturday against a familiar foe, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 4-1 win over Pittsburgh was the third meeting between the clubs in 12 days, and Columbus -- who had lost of four of its last six -- finally salvaged a victory.
Winger Cam Atkinson scored twice, giving him 38 goals on the season, and Boone Jenner and Oliver Bjorkstrand added markers to back the 28-save performance of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
But the Blue Jackets haven't solved the Islanders in the teams' two matchups this season.
New York snared a 3-2 decision on Dec. 1 in its return to Nassau Coliseum, and Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss stopped 31 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in Columbus on Feb. 14.
Columbus was foiled by New York's bottom-six forwards, and Islanders fourth-line center Casey Cizikas recorded the game-winning goal in both contests.
Saturday's game marked Atkinson's 17th multi-point game and seventh multi-goal game of the season. He again tied the franchise record for most multi-goal games in a campaign, after first matching Rick Nash's mark (2010-11) in 2016-17.
Atkinson said he and his teammates finally capitalized on good play against the Penguins but must keep it up.
"I think we did some good things last game, just didn't bear in on our opportunities and get the bounces. And tonight we played really hard, and the result showed," Atkinson said. "It's good to see we can play like that. I'm sure everyone was wondering what was going on. It can't be a fluke."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 10, 2019