The New York Islanders got goals from Cal Clutterbuck and Travis Hamonic while Evgeni Nabokov made 41 saves to earn his third shutout of the season as the home team defeated the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0.
While the Islanders allowed 41 shots on goal, they played one of their best defensive games of the year. The Isles did a great job of limiting the Blue Jackets’ chances from the slot area and allowed them precious few rebounds. Nabokov was able to see most of the shots sent his way and his quick glove and pads did the rest.
Hamonic explained how the entire team contributed to the shutout. “Defensively, that was probably one of the better games we played this season. As a unit of six back there defensively, we did a really good job of trying to lock down in front of the net and the forwards did a great job of tracking back through the neutral zone. That makes things a lot easier on you and you see a lot more pucks getting dumped in. When you have Nabby being a wall back there, it makes things quite a bit easier.”
Nabokov was also the key to the Islanders penalty kill. Columbus was 0-for-6 with the man advantage and took 11 shots on goal on the power play. Nabokov stopped them all.
“Our goalie was our best penalty killer and he made some big saves for us,” Isles’ coach Jack Capuano said. “When we made some mistakes, he was there for us.”
The Islanders took the lead at the 13:26 mark of the opening period when Clutterbuck wristed home his 10th goal of the year.
“It was a big goal. We were playing well, our forecheck was going good and I just happened to get a puck in the slot,” Clutterbuck said. “It was some good hard work by Sundstrom down there and some good work by Frans [Nielsen] in the slot and it just happened to pop out to me.”
The assist gave Nielsen 50 points on the season while Johan Sundstrom’s helper was his first career NHL point.
The Islanders extended their lead in final minute of the second period on a power play goal by Hamonic. The goal was a highlight reel tally as the defenseman took the puck behind his own goal and went coast-t0-coast, splitting the defense before beating Sergei Bobrovsky for his second goal of the season.
“Honestly, I was trying to hit Stromer on the left side of the ice,” Hamonic admitted. “It seemed the defensemen kind of overplayed both sides of the ice and protected the walls a little bit too much and I was fortunate to keep skating. It was a pretty big relief to get that one in.”
The Islanders kept the Blue Jackets at bay in the third period to clinch the victory.
“The last game [against Minnesota, Tuesday] we got a little bit embarrassed, Nabokov said. “Our guys have pride and we’re playing for our fans and for our pride. We fought hard and we found a way to win.”
The Islanders return to action Tuesday night when they travel to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes.
Attendance was 15,008.
Mike Halmo dropped the gloves in the third period with ex-Islander Blake Comeau after Comeau hit Ryan Strome behind the Islander goal. Halmo won a one-sided fight but received an extra 2:00 instigator and a 10:00 misconduct.
The Islanders signed forward Eric Boulton to a one-year contract extension.