Pageau, Barzal lead Islanders past struggling Blue Jackets
NEW YORK (AP) – Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored in the second half, and the New York Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night.
Ilya Sorokin finished with 20 saves as the Islanders won their third straight game.
“That’s the way we want to play, be tough to play against,” Pageau said. “When you play good defense, I’ve always thought that creates offense. … Every team has good players, it’s the NHL, the best league in the world. You can’t take any team lightly. They are a hard-working, well-coached team. I thought we did what we had to do to win that game.”
The Blue Jackets dropped their seventh straight game and lost for the 10th time in 12 games overall. Emil Bemstrom scored Columbus’ lone goal and Joonas Korpisalo made 34 saves.
Pageau opened the scoring at 7:12 of the second, showcasing his two-way ability with smart plays at both ends of the ice. He intercepted a drop pass in the defensive zone and then buried a loose ball past Korpisalos.
“There’s a lot of little things he does that maybe don’t get noticed, they certainly do by his teammates and the coaching staff,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “Just a responsible guy who’s taking on the challenge of playing against the other team’s top lines every night, enjoying it and doing a really good job with it.”
The Islanders improved to 14-4-0 when scoring the first goal and 12-6 when playing at UBS Arena this season.
Barzal connected on the power play at 16:39 of the second. Pageau prevented the Blue Jackets from clearing the zone and Brock Nelson delivered a crossover pass to set up Barzal.
“We did what we had to do before a big road trip,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said.
Marcus Bjork’s shot from the point deflected off Bemstrom in the final minute of the game, spoiling Sorokin’s bid.
“We didn’t generate a lot tonight,” Blues coach Brad Larsen said. “I don’t think some of our top guys had good nights. Give them credit, they take your time and space, they are good at what they do.”
IT IS WORTH NOTING
Ross Johnston dressed for the Isles for the first time since November 29 with six regulars out of the lineup.
POWER PLAY SILENCE WAS BROKEN
The Islanders went 1-for-3 on the power play, snapping a streak of 27 consecutive attempts without a power play goal.
Islanders forward Casey Cizikas skated in his 700th game. The 31-year-old striker has spent his entire 12-year career with New York.
Isles: Visit the Seattle Kraken on Sunday, beginning a four-game West Coast road trip.
Blue Jackets: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
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