Nabokov blanks playoff-hopeful Blue Jackets
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Evgeni Nabokov made 41 saves in his 58th NHL shutout, and Travis Hamonic scored a coast-to-coast, power-play goal in the second period as the New York Islanders dealt the Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes a severe blow by beating Columbus 2-0 Sunday.
Nabokov got the best of Russian counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky in their third meeting this season and posted his third shutout in this campaign. It was just the Islanders’ second regulation win ever over the Blue Jackets.
Columbus, which has dropped to fifth in the Metropolitan Division, has fallen out of an Eastern Conference playoff position with 11 games left. The Blue Jackets lost their second straight game and for the third time in four. This one was particularly costly as the Islanders are far out of postseason contention.
Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders, who bounced back from a 6-0 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday and finished a 2-2 homestand.
Bobrovsky made 30 saves for Columbus, which was 0 for 6 on power plays, including four in the third period. Bobrovsky was pulled for an extra skater with 1:50 left before the final advantage.
Hamonic gave the Islanders’ struggling power play a lift with a stunning, end-to-end rush up the middle of the ice that produced his second goal of the season with just 51.7 seconds left in the middle period.
The defenseman started from behind his net and skated alone on a straight line toward the center ice logo. He eluded R.J. Umberger in the neutral zone, carried the puck across the blue line and then snapped a shot from the slot over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder for his first goal since Oct. 29 — a span of 45 games.
New York had two failed power plays earlier in the second. The first generated little offense as the Islanders couldn’t get organized in the Columbus zone. The second was more dangerous, and the Islanders had several potential scoring chances, including a seemingly open net for Frans Nielsen to shoot at, but his drive from the right circle hit the outside of the net.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead when Clutterbuck scored his 10th goal just eight seconds after serving a roughing penalty. Johan Sundstrom, in his fourth career NHL game, swung behind the Columbus net and attempted to score on a wraparound at the left post. The puck caromed in front to Frans Nielsen, who nudged it into the slot to Clutterbuck for a shot that beat Bobrovsky with 6:34 left in the first period.
It was the first career point for Sundstrom, who made his debut on March 14.
Both Bobrovsky and Nabokov faced eight shots in the first period. Nabokov’s best stop came with 2:38 remaining when he blocked a tipped shot by Mark Letestu from in front.
NOTES: The Islanders’ only other regulation win over the Blue Jackets since Columbus joined the NHL for the 2000-01 season was a 4-0 home victory on Dec. 23, 2006. … The Blue Jackets fell to 11-2-4 against the Islanders and 4-2-2 at Nassau Coliseum. The teams will meet again in Columbus on April 6. … Hamonic has 12 goals in 241 career NHL games.