Columbus' Day: Isles Fall to Lowly Jackets

It has been a long week for the New York Islanders.  The early season road trip has been an absolute disaster for the Isles and dropping a 5-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday continued the misery.  Columbus came into the game losers of five straight, but clearly was a team that just wanted it more last night as they did something that has been the bugaboo of the Isles all season; they played the full 60 minutes.

The Islanders (6-8-3) have now lost 3 straight, all on the road, after the impressive wins in the back to back games last week.  The Isles have looked lethargic in every facet of the game so far this trip, but they must have short memories as they have a quick turnaround Sunday evening at the Montreal Canadiens.  New York will take on the Habs without their newest star Thomas Vanek, as he is just another name to add to the never ending injury report for the Islanders.  

Vanek suffered an upper body injury against the Jackets on his first shift of the night as he went down in front of Columbus' net, but it is tough to see exactly what happened to Vanek.  Coach Jack Capuano stated after the game that there is no update on the injury.  It has now been confirmed that Vanek will not play Sunday, but he is still listed as day to day.

The Blue Jackets (6-10-0) started the scoring early on the power play in the first period.  Evgeni Nabokov channelled his inner Billy Smith by swinging his stick behind the net in hopes to knick the puck away from Marian Gaborik, instead he tripped the winger and set Columbus up with the man advantage.  Columbus took just about the entire 2 minutes to finally sneak one past Nabokov when Brandon Dubinsky just threw a back hand shot at the net and the Islanders found themselves in a hole 1-0.

The score stayed constant until Frans Nielsen ripped a wrist shot through last seasons Venezia Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky with 35 seconds left in the opening period.  The goal salvaged a good period by the Islanders who fired 9 shots at Bobrovsky, compaared to Columbus only getting 2 shots to Nabokov.

New York could not hold onto the momentum, however, as they began to give up more opportunites in their own zone in the 2nd period and Ryan Johansen began his domination of the game.  

At the end of a long shift, Johansen blocked a weak shot by Thomas Hickey which fluttered right to Dubinsky's stick, who fed Johansen ahead of the Islanders struggling defensemen.  Johansen deked Nabokov out of his skates and finished the play high over the goalies glove.

The Islanders stayed in the game as Hickey redeemed himself for the meantime by blasting a slapshot from the point past the Blue Jacket's netminder and sent the game into the 3rd period tied at 2.

The Islanders no quit attitude seemed evident throught periods 1 and 2, but the 3rd period was a lost 20 minutes.  They took lazy penalties, didnt play well in the neutral zone, and could not win a big faceoff to save their lives.

R.J. Umberger started the scoring 27 seconds into the period by deflecting James Wisniewski's point shot with the man advantage.  Umberger was left in front of the goal by a struggling New York penalty kill that seemed to just lose the big forward for some reason.

Cam Atkinson continued the scoring for Columbus by not stopping on an odd man rush.  Atkinson fed Johansen at the blue line then crashed the net and pushed the puck past Nabokov, while Andrew MacDonald watched the play develop instead of actually playing defense.

The Isles poor play continued and never cam close to coming back for a third time in the game.  Wisniewski added an empty net goal from about 200 feet away to finish off the reeling Islanders 5-2.

The Islanders continue to look brutal on special teams ever since the Moulson-Vanek trade, not to say that is the direct result but maybe its more than a coincidence.  New York surrendered 2 power play goals on 4 chances and couldn't convert on their only man advantage of the night.

The lack of power play prescence and shotty defense has caused the most problems for the Isles.  The goalies have been weak, but to blame it on them is a cop out for the terrible D in front of them.

The Isles look to stop their free fall in the standings where they find themselves 5th in the Metropolitan Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference through 17 games.  The end is far from near for the Islanders season, but they must find a way to stay healthy and find help for their struggling defense or this has all the makings of a long season.

-Chad DeCarlo

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