Islanders win in return to Coliseum, beat Blue Jackets 3-2
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders were energized by a boisterous home crowd as they rallied for a win in their first regular season game at Nassau Coliseum in more than 3 1/2 years.
Casey Cizikas scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period and the Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Saturday night.
“It’s incredible, I got goosebumps going down my body right now,” Cizikas said. “It was an emotional game today. From the goaltender out, I thought we played one of our best games of the year. We were physical, we were fast, making smart plays. We had the crowd behind us all night.”
Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier scored in the second period to tie the score after the Islanders fell behind, and Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots. Scott Mayfield and Jordan Eberle each had two assists to help New York improve to 10-2-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season.
Ryan Pulock set up Cizikas at 7:09 of the third period to give the Islanders their first lead of the game and send the sell-out crowd into a frenzy. The right-handed shooting defenseman froze several Blue Jackets skaters as he circled the net and eventually found Cizikas all alone in front.
“This is Islanders country plain and simple,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. ”(The fans) are extremely passionate about their team.”
It was the Islanders’ first regular season game at the Coliseum — the team’s home for 43 years from its inception in 1972 — since April 11, 2015. This was the first of 21 games at the arena as part of a unique arrangement with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the Islanders’ home since the 2015-16 season.
The Coliseum underwent $165 million in renovations that included; an upgraded locker room, brand new seats throughout the arena, and a modernistic metallic look to the exterior part of the building. Despite all of the changes, the intimacy and infrastructure of the building helped the crowd create a playoff-like atmosphere as chants of ‘Let’s go Islanders’ reverberated throughout the venue.
“It was an amazing feeling,” forward Matt Martin said. “We didn’t want to let the fans down — not an easy hockey team to come back against — our fan base was a big reason why we were able to come back. We were able to use them to our advantage the whole night.”
Markus Hannikainen and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Columbus, which had won two straight. Cam Atkinson had an assist for his 300th career point and extending his point streak to 10 games. Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 26 saves.
“A couple of small mistakes when the game was on the line that we need to be better at,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “It’s just so frustrating the two mistakes that caused that third goal.”
Columbus capitalized on two New York turnovers in less than two minutes early in the second period to earn a 2-0 advantage.
After Josh Bailey’s floating outlet pass could not be controlled by Beauvillier, Seth Jones launched a slap shot which forced a big rebound opportunity. Hannikainen found the loose puck and got his fourth of the season at 6:46.
The Blue Jackets doubled their advantage shortly after when Dubois wired a wrist shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net at 8:33. Atkinson got his milestone point on the play.
Lee cut the Blue Jackets’ lead in half with eight minutes remaining in the middle period. The goal was initially waived off by the referee because the puck went off Lee’s hand and then his body as he fell toward the goal, but after a video review the call on the ice was overturned.
“When we scored that first goal, you could hear the fans and it carried us the rest of the game,” Mayfiled said. “You could really tell the energy in the building flipped to our side and we held it the rest of the game.”
Just 2:25 later, Beauvillier made up for an earlier mistake, finishing his own rebound to knot the game 2-2. Beauvillier skated up the ice with Mathew Barzal creating a 2-on-1 opportunity, but kept it himself while the Blue Jackets defenseman guarded against the cross-ice pass.
NOTES: During the first television timeout in the opening period the Islanders displayed a video tribute to their late owner, Charles Wang. He repeatedly tried to keep the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum throughout his ownership, but the arena was never upgraded with modern amenities. ... Four-time Stanley Cup Champions Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom were in attendance along with the franchise’s first captain, Ed Westfall. ... Islanders scratched forwards Stephen Gionta and Ross Johnston and defenseman Lucas Sbisa. .., Columbus skated in the final regular-season game at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders played three more playoff games here that year, losing a seven-game series to Trotz and the Washington Capitals. New York also faced Philadelphia in two preseason games, in September 2017 and September 2018. ... Blue Jackets scratched forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Dean Kukan.
Blue Jackets: Host Calgary on Tuesday night.
Islanders: Host Winnipeg at Barclays Center on Tuesday night.