COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two teams that were knocked back on their heels in their last game will be looking to get their skates under them Thursday night.
The New York Islanders fell behind 5-0 and lost the Dallas Stars 5-2 on Wednesday. One night earlier, the Columbus Blue Jackets also dug themselves a 5-0 hole after two periods and were rocked by the Edmonton Oilers 7-2.
The Blue Jackets (19-11-1) are tied at the top of the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals, but it doesn’t seem like they’re a first-place team.
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Despite having the worst power play in the NHL and struggling to score goals, the Blue Jackets had been winning with strong defense, penalty killing and the goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky. But everything and everyone broke down against the Oilers.
“I think that’s what bothers me the most, is that we still have put some wins in the bank and I still don’t think we’ve seen our team be the team that I think we can be,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “That’s a very dangerous situation, a team that we can be … we need to be.
“We always talk about potential. That’s a killer. So we’re going to keep on working at it, find some solutions to it and see if we can get some good things to happen for us.”
It was bad enough for the Blue Jackets to take such a pounding at home, but they learned Wednesday that rugged forward Brandon Dubinsky (three goals, nine assists) sustained a broken orbital bone in a fight near the end of the game. He will be out 6-to-8 weeks.
Forward Jordan Schroeder was recalled from AHL Cleveland to take Dubinsky’s roster spot. Schroeder could be plugged into the lineup as the fourth-line center.
Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno tried to light a fire under his teammates against the Oilers by getting involved in a fight that landed him in the penalty box.
“I look at it as a great opportunity for this team, a young club, to learn how to play in a world of adversity and answer the bell the right way,” Foligno said, according to the team’s website. “You can always do more, but now maybe it gives guys more of an opportunity to get on the ice to do that.”
The Blue Jackets need scoring from beyond their top line of Artemi Panarin, Josh Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Among the players that could step up are Alexander Wennberg, Foligno and Cam Atkinson. Wennberg has two goals in 25 games, and Foligno and Atkinson (six goals apiece) can’t seem to get untracked.
“Right now, you talk about it and talk about it, but you’ve just got to start playing well out there,” Wennberg said. “It’s been kind of obvious I haven’t played the way I want to, but enough talking. It’s time for action.”
The Islanders (17-11-3) can relate to those sentiments after their home loss to the Stars on Wednesday night.
Anders Lee scored both New York goals to give him 17 for the season, and John Tavares and Josh Bailey each had two assists. The Stars were buoyed by the return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was benched after giving up five goals in two periods and replaced by Thomas Greiss. It’s unclear which goalie will start in Columbus.
Though the Islanders have struggled to consistently produce, they are only two points out of first in the Metro. They’re 2-4-1 in their last seven games.
“It’s frustrating,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said. “We’re all frustrated.”
The second game of a back-to-back at Nationwide Arena gives the Islanders the opportunity to return to the ice quickly to right their wrongs.
“A 5-2 loss, that five really stings,” Lee said. “It feels a lot worse than it actually was. They just capitalized on their opportunities.”
The Islanders and the Blue Jackets have met once this season, also at Nationwide Arena, where Columbus skunked New York 5-0 on opening night.
“We just seemed a little sluggish,” Tavares said after Wednesday’s loss. “It’s disappointing and it’s a good thing we get a chance to respond tomorrow.”