COLUMBUS, Ohio – Steve Mason continues to shine. The New York Islanders continue to struggle.
The rookie made 24 saves to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-1 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night, their sixth loss in a row.
“The guys made it really easy tonight,” said Mason, 8-4-1 since coming up to the big club after playing three games in the minors in his first professional season. “There really weren’t any second opportunities. (They were) making sure that I could see the shots from the point. Everybody did a great job in front of me.”
Fredrik Modin, Jason Chimera and Andrew Murray scored to help the Blue Jackets win their fourth straight home game. The Blue Jackets improved to 7-2-1 against the Islanders since joining the NHL in 2000-01.
Richard Park had the only goal for the Islanders, who were winless on a four-game road trip and have also lost their last six games away from home.
“It’s tough but we have got to try to keep it positive and try to do the things that we know that work for us,” Islanders forward Sean Bergenheim said. “We can’t be too negative. We have to keep on going. We can’t quit here.”
Coach Scott Gordon said when a team is having trouble, it can’t buy a break.
“When you struggle to get a win … the first goal goes off Freddie’s (Modin’s) leg and then you have a goal (Murray’s) when you make a mistake at the opposition’s blue-line … and (both) end up in the back of our net,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets feel as if things are turning in their direction.
“The nice part for us was we got goals from support players,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “When your top six (forwards) aren’t collectively scoring, it magnifies everything.”
With the Islanders pressuring midway through the final period while trailing 2-1, the Blue Jackets got the clincher. Kris Russell’s blast from the right point was stopped by goalie Joey MacDonald but the puck remained loose. Jake Voracek had two cracks at the rebound but couldn’t get either past MacDonald, but Murray arrived late to jam the puck in for his fourth of the year.
“It was nice to get that third goal,” Murray said. “It kind of deflates their team a little bit, getting behind by two.”
MacDonald stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring at 4:01 of the second period, thanks to a power play that ranks worst in the NHL.
Modin picked up the goal when a shot by Fedor Tyutin from the right point deflected off of Nash’s stick and went in off Modin’s leg. It was Modin’s sixth of the season.
Late in the period, Columbus made it 2-0 when Chimera sped past two defenders to a loose puck in the Islanders’ end, then swept in and beat MacDonald high inside the near post.
“It kind of sat down nicely when I was going to shoot it,” said Chimera. “Fortunately, he exposed his high glove a little bit and I chipped it over.”
In the final minute of the second period, Columbus was on the power play when a puck skipped over the stick of defenceman Mike Commodore near the blue-line and Park skated past him to collect it before sliding a backhander between Mason’s leg pads for the short-handed goal.
Mason was up to the task the rest of the night.
“Until we’re in the playoffs, nothing’s good enough,” Mason said. “This team, we have to make the playoffs. Right now, we’re not in that playoff picture, so every game is important to us.”
Notes: Islanders C Doug Weight had his five-game points streak come to an end. … Columbus played its second game in a row at home but is in the midst of playing 12 of 17 and 15 of 23 on the road. … Russell extended his points streak to three games (1-3-4).