The Blue Jackets were looking uphill after two periods at the Nassau Coliseum. But like they did so many times last season, they found a way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
As one would expect, the New York Islanders - a fast team even without the added adrenaline of their home opener - came out buzzing in the opening period but the Blue Jackets held together and defended well in the opening 20 minutes. They played a far more composed game than they did Friday night at Nationwide Arena and were thusly rewarded: a power play goal from Mark Letestu got it started, Nick Foligno equalized a few minutes later, and Cam Atkinson notched the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to send the Jackets back to Columbus with their first win of the season.
But perhaps tonight's biggest storyline was a dominating performance from goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who looked every bit the part of last year's Vezina Trophy winning goaltender. He made 28 saves in regulation and overtime and added three more in the shootout, and was by far Columbus' best player in the victory.
For the second consecutive game, the Blue Jackets' power play scored a big goal and got them going. On Friday night, it got them level after a rocky start in the first period against Calgary and tonight, it cut a 2-0 deficit in half and gave them a fighting chance in the latter stages of the third.
After getting within a goal, the Blue Jackets kept pushing the pace and eventually, some dogged work around the net paid off. RJ Umberger carried the puck deep into Islanders territory and threw it into the crease, and Foligno chopped it toward the net and off Peter Regin's glove before it trickled behind Nabokov.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards liked the way his team was engaged right from the opening face-off and didn't let an energetic start from the Islanders set them back. Despite two assists from Islanders captain John Tavares, the Blue Jackets did well in defending New York's top line and didn't give them much room to operate at even strength
Letestu said it after the game: the Blue Jackets want their power play to be a difference-maker, and tonight, it was. His goal gave Columbus a big lift and it carried them in the minutes leading up to Foligno's tying goal. Dubinsky and Atkinson both made all-out effort plays in the slot to free up the puck for Letestu, who snapped a quick wrister by Nabokov's glove.
1. LUBOMIR VISNOVSKY (NYI)
Having a guy like Visnovsky on the back end can make a power play sing, and his rocket one-timer opened the scoring in the second period. The veteran blueliner played 25:17 to go along with a multi-point game (goal, assist) in the Islanders' home opener.
2. JOHN TAVARES (NYI)
The Islanders captain was an impact player in this game, registering assists on both of his team's goals and logging nearly 21 minutes of ice time. As Tavares goes, the Islanders go, and the Blue Jackets did nice job defending his line as the game went along.
3. MARK LETESTU (CBJ)
We talk about this guy a lot and for good reason. He was a steady presence for the Blue Jackets tonight, which is no surprise considering how he's played since arriving in Columbus two years ago. His line with MacKenzie and Jenner settled the team down in the first period, Richards said, and put them in good shape.
AT BUFFALO SABRES
THURSDAY, 7 P.M.
FIRST NIAGARA CENTER
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