COLUMBUS — The New York Islanders got key contributions from a few unlikely sources in their latest victory.
Brian Strait had a goal and an assist while playing his second game in a row after sitting 11 and backup Chad Johnson made 16 saves in his first start since Dec. 23 to lead the Islanders to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
“As a coaching staff, not only do we want to see them do well, their teammates want to see them do well, too,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We have a close-knit group.”
They also don’t mind scoring by committee as Nikolay Kulemin, Matt Martin, Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo also scored, and Ryan Strome and Thomas Hickey each had two assists for the Islanders, who maintained their recent surge into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a second consecutive win in as many nights.
“We played within the framework and the structure that we wanted to play against a really good hockey team,” Capuano said. “I like the way we dictated the pace tonight.”
Jack Johnson and Nick Foligno scored for Columbus, back home from a four-game (2-2-0) trip with the logo for the upcoming NHL All-Star game freshly painted inside the center-ice circle.
But for a second straight game they had a bad period that cost them.
“We became undisciplined in certain areas of the game and it opened up holes and exposed us,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said.
Tied at 1 and with Sergei Bobrovsky flashing his pads to make one stop after another, he finally didn’t have an answer on a perfect passing combination off a rush started by Casey Cizikas. Strome then sent a pass from the right wing to Martin for the easy redirection in front for his sixth at 10:04.
Three minutes later, Kevin Connauton had trouble with a bouncing puck in his skates. Lee grabbed it at the blue line, raced in and beat Bobrovsky between the legs for his 10th.
NOTES: Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno, and the Islanders’ John Tavares were named to the NHL All-Star roster before the game to be held Jan. 25 in Columbus. … Johansen’s career-high five-game goal streak came to an end, but he extended his points streak (6-6-12) to 10 games to tie a career best.