UNIONDALE, N.Y. – One night after Columbus had its home opener spoiled, the Blue Jackets wrecked the New York Islanders’ first night in front of their fans.
The Islanders came in with momentum Saturday after opening their season one night earlier with a shootout win at New Jersey.
With a two-goal lead in the third period, New York seemed poised for a 2-0 start as the club seeks to return to the playoffs for the second straight season.
Not so fast.
Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno netted goals 4:19 apart in the third period to erase Columbus’ deficit, and Cam Atkinson scored in the fourth round of a shootout to lift the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves through overtime and then stopped three of four shootout attempts.
“We pull for each other,” Foligno said. “We played hard, the way we expect to play every night. We were rewarded for it.
“We kept pressing and wound up with a great result.”
Columbus doesn’t know much about blown third-period leads as the Blue Jackets have won 27 straight since January 2012 when leading after two—including a 13-0 mark last season.
“The team was working really well together,” said Bobrovsky, who sported a blue velvet and gold crown in the winning dressing room. “We have to be together to win. Tonight we did a great job of that. The hard work paid off.”
The Islanders and goalie Evgeni Nabokov seemed to be in complete control before Letestu and Foligno struck. The Blue Jackets managed only 12 shots in the first two periods before turning it on in the third.
“Tonight was a full team effort, and we got the job done,” Atkinson said. “Now we have to keep it going. We played Blue Jackets hockey.”
New York built its lead in the second on a power-play goal by defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky and an even-strength tally by Matt Moulson. Visnovsky added an assist, and captain John Tavares had two for the Islanders.
New York, which won its season opener on Friday with a shootout win at New Jersey, got one goal in four rounds of this tiebreaker against Bobrovsky—by Moulson, who was the only scorer one night earlier.
“We got three out of four points, but we have to be doing whatever it takes,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “Keep showing a willingness to compete. For the most part we did, but the guys have to learn that you have to play hard every shift.”
Letestu also scored in the shootout, setting the stage for Atkinson’s winner.
Both teams had chances to win in a wild overtime.
Kyle Okposo fired two hard drives during New York’s power play. Columbus nearly caught the Islanders pinned up ice when Jack Johnson almost had a breakaway as he left the penalty box, however the lead pass was too far in front, and Nabokov knocked it away.
R.J. Umberger then led a Blue Jackets’ 3-on-1 rush, yet his shot was also stopped by Nabokov.
“Nabby did a really good job for us,” Capuano said. “He made a lot of key second and third saves.”
Columbus, which lost its season opener at home on Friday to Calgary, had a 5-4 shots advantage in overtime. New York held a 30-29 edge overall.
Letestu started the rally with a power-play goal at 7:45, Columbus’ first advantage of the night, and Foligno tied it from in close with 8:06 left in regulation.
Nabokov wasn’t overly busy early, but looked sharp in keeping the Blue Jackets at bay until the third-period surge. The 38-year-old goalie earned the win on Friday.
“This league is so evenly matched up,” Nabokov said. “It’s not much difference between winning and losing.”
The Islanders broke out in the second period, scoring twice including a power-play goal that ended the scoreless deadlock.
New York put pressure on Bobrovsky and nearly scored when Josh Bailey fired a drive that Bobrovsky barely knocked away with his glove. In the ensuing scrum, Artem Anisimov was whistled for hooking, giving the Islanders the first man-advantage of the game.
On the power play, Tavares moved the puck from the right circle up to Visnovsky, who was in the middle of the ice just inside the blue line. Visnovsky sent a pass left to Frans Nielsen, who quickly pushed the puck back to the defenceman for a shot that sailed through traffic and past Bobrovsky at 8:17.
The Islanders needed only 5:44 more to double their lead, this time with Tavares and Visnovsky assisting on Moulson’s first traditional goal of the young season.
Tavares, the Islanders’ new captain, did hard work along the right-wing boards to dig out the puck. He quickly sent a quick pass down to the crease, where Moulson skated into the puck and jammed it past Bobrovsky.
There were few prime scoring chances in the goal-less and penalty-free first period in which the Islanders held a 9-4 edge in shots.
NOTES: This was the first meeting between the teams since Columbus joined the Eastern Conference and became division rivals with New York in the newly formed Metropolitan Division. … The Islanders were trying for their first 2-0 start since 2007. … Letestu scored his 40th career NHL goal in 184 games. He led Columbus last season with 13 goals. … Both teams were 1 for 2 on power plays.