The effort was there, the performance was better, but the end result was the same for the New York Islanders. Jakub Voracek’s goal at the 2:31 mark of overtime gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 win over the Isles who are now winless in their last 14 games (0-11-3).
The Isles’ franchise record for longest winless streak is 15 games set back in the Isles’ first season in the league, 1972-73. The expansion Isles went 0-12-3 between November 22 and December 21, 1972, before they beat the Minnesota North Stars at the Nassau Coliseum on December 23 to finally end the slump.
The frustration level for this Islander team continues to grow as the club looks for ways to end this frustrating drought. “We played a consistent 60 minutes tonight,” said Coach Jack Capuano. “We had our chances again but we couldn’t find the net.”
The Islanders did score first, sparked by a fight between Trevor Gillies and Jared Boll of Columbus at the 9:57 mark of the opening period. Boll checked John Tavares from behind hard into the boards and Gillies came in to stick up for his young center. “He ran JT from behind and my job is to look after my teammates,” Gillies explained. “The boys got a spark and got me a goal in the box and that was nice but in the end we came up short tonight.”
Trent Hunter turned Gillies’ spark into a 1-0 Islanders lead when he scored on a hard wrist shot from just inside the faceoff dot in the left circle. It was Hunter’s first goal of the season and his first since April 1 of last season, a period of 21 games played for the veteran wing.
Goals by Antoine Vermette and Chris Clark 2:10 apart gave the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead after the first period. The Vermette goal came during a 5-on-3 power play off a pretty cross ice pass by Derick Brassard. Columbus outplayed the Isles for most of the first period and outshot the home team 17-9.
The Islanders clawed back into the game when Michael Grabner scored on a pretty backhand from five feet out just 51 seconds into the second period. John Tavares got a goal off a bad bounce that bounced to him in front of the net just 1:33 later and suddenly the Islanders had a 3-2 lead.
The lead lasted a bit more than four minutes when R.J. Umberger was left all alone to convert the rebound of a shot by Jan Hejda and the game was all even at 3-3.
Columbus outshot the Islanders 10-5 in the third period, but solid play by goalie Rick DiPietro kept the game tied and forced overtime.
In the extra session, it was Voracek who ended it when lifted the rebound of a Kris Russell shot over the shoulder of DiPietro to end the hockey game.
The Blue Jackets were happy to escape Long Island with two points. “We weren’t as crisp and clean as we have been,” Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. “We won against a desperate team. Garon has been really good for us. Our road game is simpler. We’re not out to entertain, just play hard and solid and win.”
Meanwhile, the frustration continues to build for the Islanders who are now 0-for-27 on the power play in their last seven games.
“There are some high-end teams in this league that are going through the same thing. You just have to get pucks to the net and have traffic,” Capuano said. “They outworked us. We didn’t have much time in (the attack) zone.”
Forward P.A. Parenteau feels the Isles are getting closer to ending this lengthy slump. “It’s getting frustrating, no doubt about it,” Parenteau admitted. “Guys have not been part of a situation like this in their hockey careers. We’re doing some good things. The way we’ve played the last couple of games shows we’re not giving up. We have the guys to turn it around in this locker room.”
The Islanders will look for their first win in the month of November on Friday afternoon when the host the New Jersey
Devils at the Nassau Coliseum.
Before the game, the Islanders sent forward Josh Bailey down to their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Bailey was scoreless in his last 13 games, 12 of which came after he suffered a hip injury.
Defenseman Travis Hamonic made his NHL debut for the Isles. Hamonic was recalled on an emergency basis after the injury to Mike Mottau. Mottau will miss 4-6 weeks after being hit in the face with a puck against the Thrashers in Atlanta. Hamonic played 19:57 and picked up two penalty minutes. He was credited with one shot on goal, two hits and a blocked shot and was a minus-one for the game.
Trent Hunter left the game late in the third period with what appeared to be a foot injury.
The Isles scratched Doug Weight (back spasms) and Mottau while the Marc Methot and Nikita Filatov were the Blue Jackets scratches.