Islanders use strong third period to top Blue Jackets 5-2
By SCOTT CHARLES
NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Palmieri scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist, and Sebastian Aho, Oliver Wahlstrom and Ryan Pulock also scored as New York improved to 7-1 in its last eight home games dating back to a 6-0 win against the Blue Jackets on March 10.
Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves in his second consecutive start and third straight appearance with Ilya Sorokin sidelined with an upper-body injury.
"When we stick to our game, we can be very effective against anyone," Pulock said. "I thought we did a good job of responding in the third and just played our game."
Emil Bemstrom and Justin Danforth scored for Columbus, which lost its fifth straight. Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves.
Palmieri broke a 2-2 tie at 3:16 of the third period with his 12th goal of the season. The 31-year-old winger breezed by Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine and roofed a wrist shot to give New York a one-goal advantage. Merlikins was unable to close off the short side and Palmieri took advantage of the opening.
Pulock added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
"They want you to turn the puck over and a couple of times we were doing that," Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke said. "That leads to long shifts, that leads to possession time for them, kind of screws up the rhythm of the game."
The Blue Jackets erased a two-goal deficit in a span of 1:39 midway through the second period. The Islanders left Bemstrom all alone at the top of the crease and he finished a pass from Eric Robinson at 8:47. Jake Bean also assisted on the play.
Danforth tied it at 2 with his fifth goal of the season. Yegor Chinakov skated into the offensive zone and found Vladislav Gavrikov in the slot after Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara prevented the forward from getting behind him. Varlamov stopped the initial shot from Gavrikov, but was unable to hold onto the rebound and Danforth was able to capitalize.
"There's no quit in the group, there hasn't been all year," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "There's been at times maybe some frustration, but there's never been any quit where they, you know, they throw up their hands and just walk away. There's none of that at all."
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead with two goals in 11 seconds midway through the first period.
Aho opened the scoring when he stopped short and wired a wrist shot over the glove of Merzlikins at 8:39. Brock Nelson extended his point streak to six games with an assist on the play.
Wahlstrom extended the Islanders lead to 2-0 after he buried a feed from Zach Parise at 8:50. Barzal started the sequence with a floating backhand that Parise was able to corral in the offensive zone.
New York outshot Columbus 10-0 in the first half of the opening frame.
"I think we knew we didn't come out with any fire and they came out flying," Danforth said. "We just didn't have it early, I thought we fought back. We are a team that battles hard and will battle adversity. Tonight we didn't have enough to get back in the game."
90 YEARS YOUNG
The Islanders honored hockey historian and veteran journalist Stan Fischler at the game to celebrate his 90th birthday. "The Hockey Maven" has been a hockey television personality in the northeast since the early 1970s and has authored over 100 books. He began his career with the New York Rangers in the 1950s, working in the team's public relations department.
COVID IN COLUMBUS
Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen and assistant coach Steve McCarthy were placed in the COVID-19 protocols and each missed their second straight game. Associate coach Pascal Vincent led the team behind the bench. ... D Zach Weresnki missed his second straight game after he sustained a hit to the head late in the late first period of Saturday night's 3-2 overtime loss against Minnesota.
The Islanders closed out a hectic March schedule with a 10-6-1 record. The 17 games New York played in March are the most the franchise has played in a single month in franchise history.
Nine of the final 16 games remaining in the Islanders' regular season are against division opponents. The Islanders are 8-2-1 against Metropolitan teams since returning from the holiday break.
Blue Jackets: Visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
Islanders: Visit the New York Rangers on Friday night.
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Updated March 31, 2022