Another tight game went the wrong way for the Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.
Overcoming a second deficit was too much for Columbus to manage in a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders that included a Blue Jackets rally in the second period to overcome a 2-0 deficit on power-play goals by Yegor Chinakhov and Kent Johnson.
Brock Nelson scored at 6:10 of the third during 4-on-4 to give New York a 3-2 lead and the Islanders helped goalie Ilya Sorokin (24 saves) make it stand up for the remaining 13:50 of the period — including a late push by the Blue Jackets with their net empty for a 6-on-5 advantage.
Oliver Wahlstom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the first two goals for the Islanders (14-8-0), who downed the Blue Jackets (7-12-1) for the second time this season. Joonas Korpisalo made 21 saves for Columbus.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game and high intensity," said Blue Jackets forward Mathieu Olivier, whose fight in the second sparked the two-goal comeback. "I thought we did well. We just made one too many mistakes and it cost us. We're doing good things, that's for sure. But this one hurts. We played well enough to win. They played well enough too."
Here’s a breakdown:
Columbus Blue Jackets vs New York Islanders: key moments
— The Islanders built a 2-0 lead on the goals by Wahlstrom with 2:34 left in the first period and Pageau to cap a power play at 7:51 of the second. It was the culmination of New York's "heavy" game, which makes it tough for opposing teams in all three zones.
— Islanders captain Anders Lee ran over Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Peeke just inside the New York blue line, which drew the immediate attention of Mathieu Olivier. The Columbus enforcer tracked Lee down, initiated a fight and then traded blows with a 6-foot-3, 235-pound menace to pump some energy into the crowd and the Blue Jackets. Olivier picked up an extra two minutes for roughing, but it was killed off and the Jackets drew two key penalties shortly after the Islanders' power play expired.
"It's more of a timing, step up and defend my teammate kind of thing," Olivier said. "It was a physical game. They were physical on us all night. We were on them too. We were down 2-0. I could've done without the extra penalty, but in the end it worked out to change momentum a little bit."
— Chinakhov and Johnson's goals were nearly identical to capitalize on a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes after New York picked up two minor penalties on the same shift. Chinakhov beat Sorokin past the glove from the top of the left circle with a hard wrist shot that he sent past Boone Jenner's screen in front. Johnson's slap shot 33 seconds later from the same spot beat New York's goalie in the same area with the aid of another Jenner screen, tying it 2-2 late in the second.
"He's really good at screening," Johnson said of Jenner. "He's obviously done it a long time and makes a living there at the front of the power play, so it's pretty easy for me to pick my spots."
— Nelson's 4-on-4 goal at 6:10 of the third decided it, roofed under the crossbar to the short side against Korpisalo after Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Jake Christiansen couldn't get the puck past Nelson's forechecking effort along the near wall.
"We played well," Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. "There's not much to criticize tonight. Mistake there on the 4-on-4 goal there cost us, but the effort was there. We had our looks. It was a pretty solid game again."
Columbus Blue Jackets vs New York Islanders notes
— Patrik Laine (ankle) and goalie Elvis Merzlikins (lower body) joined the Blue Jackets’ morning skate Friday about midway through the session. Both are nearing the halfway point of their projected recovery timelines.
— Carson Meyer played 7:16 in his season debut, stepping right into the Blue Jackets’ lineup after being recalled Thursday. His fourth line, which included Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger, was on the ice to start the game.
“Remember when we talked about camp and the hard ones to let go?" Larsen said. "He was that guy for me. He’s getting more confidence in himself and you can see it in his play, and the big message was to make sure he played the same way down there (in Cleveland). He’s earned his way back here. I’m excited to see him.”
— Chinakhov (upper body) returned after missing one game. The second-year forward entered the game as the Jackets’ third-leading scorer with three goals, seven assists and 10 points in 18 games.
— The Blue Jackets were supposed to play back-to-back games Friday against the Islanders and Saturday at the Nashville Predators. They’ll practice in Columbus instead Saturday after a broken water main in Nashville caused significant damage at Nashville’ Bridgestone Arena and postponed the scheduled game there.
— Meyer was going to spend Thanksgiving in Cleveland, but was informed about the recall to Columbus after a morning practice with the Cleveland Monsters. He wound up going to the Columbus area instead, surprising his family by joining Thanksgiving festivities there.
“My mom was expecting, I think, two people for Thanksgiving and then I told her I was coming, my sister and her fiancé came, and my aunts and uncles,” Meyer said. “We ended up with like 15 of us. (Rookie defenseman) Bill Sweezey was there too.”
Quotable: Columbus Blue Jackets vs New York Islanders
"I think they're starting to grasp it. We're almost at that quarter point (of the season), so it's coming. We've got a lot of new faces in there too, so we're doing a good job."
— Larsen on the Blue Jackets' improving play within their defensive structure the past two games.
"Our team is so young here. I've never been on a team this young before, I don't think. It's definitely something I need to get better at to help some of these kids, because, you know, I'm here for the next seven years and these guys are going to be here well past when I'm done playing. They're really skilled players and it's going to be fun working with them the rest of this season and in the future."
— Blue Jackets forward Johnny Gaudreau on becoming a leader for the Blue Jackets' bevy of young forwards.
“It’s important for me to round out my game and be trusted, so being physical in the D-zone and making it harder on other guys is obviously going to help me in the long run. So, I’m just trying to add components to my game.”
— Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Jake Christiansen on adding more physicality this season
“He had lots of opportunities, playing with some really good players on our team, first unit power play, but there’s both sides of it in how he has to play. Just not enough. Not enough with the puck, away from the puck, some details and that’s the decision we came to.”
— Larsen on the reasons Emil Bemstrom was reassigned to the Monsters to make room for Meyer
Up next for the Columbus Blue Jackets
The postponed game in Nashville means the Jackets' next opponent will be the Vegas Golden Knights, who make their lone visit to Columbus on Monday.
Get more Columbus Blue Jackets talk on the Cannon Fodder podcast
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Blue Jackets drop close game against New York Islanders