Mike Sillinger also scored on the power play in the third period for Columbus and Tyler Wright added an empty-netter to help the Blue Jackets improve to 4-0-1-0 all-time against the Islanders. New York is the only NHL team without a win against Columbus.
“I thought it was a gritty performance against a team that is in the playoff race and a desperate team to win,” Blue Jackets coach Doug MacLean said. “I was pleased with the overall soundness of our third period in particular.”
The Blue Jackets opened a quick three-goal lead in the last meeting between the teams and went on to a 4-2 win on November 29 at the Nassau Coliseum.
Columbus again took control early in this one, using the power-play tallies by Cassels and Pirjeta to take a 2-0 lead in the first 5:52. The Blue Jackets had a 14-2 edge in shots in the first 10 minutes, taking advantage of a team that played the previous night in Philadelphia.
“That was obviously the word in the dressing room here,” said goaltender Marc Denis, who stopped 29 shots. “We knew they played a tough, physical game last night in Philly. We’ve played catchup hockey on the second night of back-to-back games, so we knew how important it was to get off to a good start.”
After defenseman Roman Hamrlik was penalized for cross-checking, Pirjeta spun around, gained control of the puck and beat Snow with a high shot from the right circle.
“I wish I had an answer. We have to be ready,” Hamrlik said. “We can’t play like that. I think everyone was ready. We just didn’t show up.”
The Islanders halved the deficit on a power-play goal by Arron Asham at 8:26 of the second. Asham skated from behind the net and stuffed his own rebound by Denis.
Sillinger redirected Whitney’s shot at 5:21 of the third before Wright capped the scoring with 68 seconds left.
The three power-play goals were atypical for the Blue Jackets, who were just 11-for-90 with the extra man in the previous 20 games.
“Obviously, we have been struggling a bit, so it was a big night for us in special teams,” Cassels said. “When you win the special teams’ game, usually good things happen.”
Columbus won for just the second time in seven games, including back-to-back losses in Dallas and Colorado earlier this week.
“That’s the benefit of being at home,” Whitney said. “You just feel more comfortable and have a little more confidence in the power play.”
The loss completed an up and down week for the Islanders, who were routed at home by the archrival New York Rangers on Tuesday before Friday’s surprising win in Philadelphia.
Islanders coach Peter Laviolette warned his team about the dangers of coming out flat, but it fell on deaf ears.
“For every man accountable to come out the way we did in the first 10 minutes, there is no excuse,” Laviolette said. “Right now, it’s was a waste of two points, a waste of a trip.”
“Losing this game, the game in Philadelphia means nothing,” Asham added.
New York also may have lost Scatchard after he was slammed face-first into the boards in the third period. He needed stitches for a cut near his eye and forehead.
The Blue Jackets have won four of their last six home games to improve to 13-9-1-1 at Nationwide Arena.