COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was a rare New York Islanders road win for two reasons.
Josh Bailey scored 2:58 into overtime to send New York to a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. Winning on the road and rallying haven’t been traits this season for the Islanders.
Columbus defenceman Mike Commodore got caught pinching deep in the Islanders zone. New York’s Mark Streit zoomed out of the zone and slid the puck into the slot for John Tavares, who dropped it to Bailey. The speedy centre wasted little time and snapped a low shot past Mathieu Garon from inside the left circle.
“It was a great play by Streiter moving up the ice,” Bailey said of his 15th goal. “Obviously he was gassed, he had been out there a while. It was a great pass to Johnny and he had a sixth sense. He knew I was there.”
With more road wins, the Islanders would be in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race instead of in 11th place.
New York earned only its second road victory since Jan. 18, when they were a season-high three games above .500. They did it, despite squandering yet another two-goal lead. The Islanders are 2-10-1 on the road during that span.
Kyle Okposo, Sean Bergenheim and Jon Sim scored in regulation for the Islanders, which won for the first time at Nationwide Arena in their sixth attempt. It was the only NHL arena in which the Islanders hadn’t won.
“It wasn’t an easy game for us,” New York coach Scott Gordon said. “They’ve got some big bodies and as you know, we are short-handed on the back end. The guys did well.”
On top of that, the Islanders didn’t have any power plays. It marked the first time the Blue Jackets ever played a game in which they weren’t whistled for a penalty.
“Even if you don’t score on your power plays it’s an opportunity to get momentum,” Gordon said. “You get a team on their heels.”
Rick Nash had a goal and an assist, and R.J. Umberger and Grant Clitsome also scored for Columbus.
Columbus trailed 2-1 heading into the third period, but Nash and Clitsome scored 45 seconds apart early in the frame to give the Blue Jackets the lead.
Nash put home a giveaway by Streit 33 seconds in off a pass from Kristian Huselius for his 31st goal. Clitsome followed with a wrist shot from the left circle for his first NHL goal.
“It wasn’t that good of a game,” Nash said. “It was good to come back, but I don’t think we had a full team that played their best.”
Sim tied it with his 11th goal three minutes later. He scored from the top of the crease, redirecting Jack Hillen’s centring pass from the left corner.
The Islanders struck twice in a 62-second span early in the first to take the lead.
On a strange sequence, Matt Moulson fired a long shot from the left boards off the post that ricocheted to Okposo at the right circle. He launched another long shot, this one beating Garon under the crossbar. The puck quickly sprung off the inside netting while Garon bumped the cage off its mooring with his shoulders as he tried to make the save. The play was reviewed and the goal was upheld.
Tim Jackman wiggled free from defenceman Clitsome and let loose a spin-around shot from near the slot that was redirected by a tightly marked Bergenheim, who stuck out his stick blade for a goal.
“I don’t think we came out with the tempo that we wanted,” Umberger said. “We’ve been talking about trying to he pacesetters and I don’t think, as a team, we did that in the beginning. So we got behind early.”
Umberger put Columbus on the board just 52 seconds into the second period, redirecting Nash’s shot from the right point for a power-play goal.
Late in the period, Dwayne Roloson robbed Nash from the doorstep while down on the ice, reaching backward to make the glove save.
NOTES: The Blue Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Friday. … Columbus leads the series with the Islanders 7-2-3. … With the Islanders beset by injuries to their defence, Anton Klementyev made his NHL debut as the second emergency recall in three days for New York.