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|Everything but the Finish - Wed, 24 Nov 2010|
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -The streaking New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets are both making history - but in vastly different ways.
While Columbus has risen to the top of the Central Division standings, the Islanders have plummeted to the bottom of the NHL.
Jakub Voracek scored a rebound goal 2:31 into overtime to lift the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory on Wednesday night that sent New York to its 14th straight loss.
The Islanders, 0-11-3 in their past 14 games, scored more than two goals for the first time in 12 contests and earned a point at home for the first time since Oct. 12. This is New York's longest stretch without a win since a 14-game skid in which the Islanders lost 11 times and tied three others between Feb. 13-March 15, 1990.
New York has been outscored 53-21 during this stretch and has gone 0-4-1 in its last five at home. The Islanders have earned a point in two straight games with overtime losses, but are last in the NHL with 13 points.
"It's getting frustrating, no doubt about it," forward P.A. Parenteau said. "Guys have not been part of a situation like this in their hockey careers. We're doing some good things. The way we've played the last couple of games shows we're not giving up. We have the guys to turn it around in this locker room."
Columbus' fortunes continued to move in the opposite direction. Antoine Vermette, Chris Clark and R.J. Umberger scored for the Blue Jackets, who have won five straight. It is Columbus' best run since a five-game streak from Dec. 2-12, 2006.
Mathieu Garon made 21 saves for Columbus, including stoning Frans Nielsen with a right-pad save a minute into overtime. Garon improved to 6-1, and Columbus moved to 4-0 against Eastern Conference teams.
"We weren't as crisp and clean as we have been," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. "We won against a desperate team. Garon has been really good for us. Our road game is simpler. We're not out to entertain, just play hard and solid and win."
Trent Hunter, Michael Grabner and John Tavares scored and Rick DiPietro made 34 saves for the Islanders. DiPietro stopped Kris Russell's head-on shot before the trailing Voracek buried the rebound in overtime for his fifth goal.
DiPietro has stopped 67 of 73 shots in the past two games. The Islanders are happy to get a point in these losses, but they know they have to improve their play greatly if they hope to end this long skid soon.
"When you make a couple more mistakes than the other team, you lose, and that's what has been happening to us lately," DiPietro said. "We're playing hard and competing and trying to prove to everyone we care as much as they do."
New York went scoreless on three power plays and hasn't netted a man-advantage goal in seven games - going 0 for 27. Islanders interim coach Jack Capuano, 0-2-2 since replacing the fired Scott Gordon last week, said the key to rejuvenating the power play is to simplify the strategy.
"There are some high-end teams in this league that are going through the same thing. You just have to get pucks to the net and have traffic," Capuano said. "They outworked us. We didn't have much time in (our) zone."
Grabner and Tavares scored in a 1:33 span early in the second period to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead. Grabner used a toe-drag move to get open between the circles before beating Garon with a backhander at 51 seconds for his fifth goal.
Tavares chipped in a ricochet off the end boards just moments later. Bruno Gervais' blocked shot hit the wall behind the net and bounced in front of the goal mouth as Tavares pounced for his second goal in 12 games and his eighth this season.
"The most nervous we were was when they scored those two quick goals in the second period," Garon said. "Fortunately, Coach called a timeout, and we played better after that."
Umberger quieted the half-empty Nassau Coliseum crowd when he scored his seventh of the season at 6:46 to tie it at 3. Umberger logged his third multipoint game of the season. He has nine points in seven games.
New York took a 1-0 lead for the just the ninth time in 21 games when Hunter squeezed a left-circle shot between Garon's glove and the right post at 10:16. That marked Hunter's first goal in 17 games this season.
Columbus responded by scoring two goals in 2 minutes. The Blue Jackets, bounced back from allowing their first goal in three games after Hunter ended the club's shutout streak at 142 minutes, 54 seconds.
Vermette tied it 1-1 at 13:38 when he pushed in Derick Brassard's right-point pass for a power-play goal. Clark followed with a rebound strike for his fourth goal that made it 2-1.
"We had some good chances on the five-on-three, and were able to cash in," Vermette said. "The Islanders are a dangerous team."
Despite entering with the NHL's third-worst power-play unit, the Blue Jackets scored on special teams for the third time in four games for its opening goal. Matt Martin and Zenon Konopka were both sent off with penalties to give Columbus a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:54.
DiPietro stopped the first six shots on the power play before Vermette converted the seventh chance for his fourth goal at 13:48.
Moments later, DiPietro stopped Vermette's initial shot before Clark - left unguarded by defenseman Dylan Reese - fired in an open shot from the slot for his fourth goal.
Rick Nash registered four shots but was kept off the score sheet as his nine-game point streak and six-game goal streak ended.
"The most important thing was we got the two points," Nash said. "Tonight was a bit of a tough one. This was only the third time I've played against DiPietro in the NHL. He's a good goalie."
NOTES: Tavares played in his 100th NHL game. ... Before the game, New York assigned forward Josh Bailey to AHL Bridgeport. The 2008 first-round pick didn't record a point in 13 games before the demotion. ... Islanders D Mike Mottau will miss 4-to-6 weeks after a puck struck his eye in Sunday's game against Atlanta. ... The Blue Jackets unveiled their new third jersey to fans in Columbus during a viewing party. The team will wear the uniforms on Friday at home against Detroit.