ELMONT — Mathew Barzal is heating up and so are the Islanders.
The star center recorded his fifth goal in his last seven games and his fifth point in his last four as the Islanders defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night at UBS Arena. Barzal scored in the second period to help end a prolonged Islanders power-play drought that had been 0-for-its-last-27 over its previous nine games.
“It’s a situation where everybody’s trying their best,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “It was nice to see us break that bubble and hopefully it leads to more.”
New York has now won three straight games.
On the other end of the night, goaltender Ilya Sorokin didn’t have all that strenuous of an evening making just 20 saves but came 20.5 seconds short of his fourth shutout of the season when Emil Bemstrom brought Columbus within one when a shot from the point deflected off his chest and in.
The Islanders outshot Columbus 36-21 on the night.
“We’re doing a good job of stopping the puck in the D-zone,” captain Anders Lee said. “We’re playing really well and no allowing them to roll as often as we can. I think that eliminates quite a bit [of chances].”
The Islanders finally found a breakthrough 7:12 into the second period thanks to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who picked off a lazy drop pass by Columbus Johnny Gaudreau and sparked a break down the right wing. A drop pass for Fasching saw the burgeoning winger deke around a defender and fire a wrister that squeaked through Joonas Korpisalo and sit behind the netminder in the crease.
Pageau was first to it, slotting home the point-blank sitter to put the Islanders in front on a night in which he recorded two points.
“I’ve always been told when you have chances, keep working and that you’re doing good things,” Pageau said. “I thought our line was doing a really good job of creating offense and having our chance… I think we were happy with our game.”
Barzal doubled the hosts’ advantage at the 16:39 mark of the second while snapping that dreadful 0-for-27 power-play drought when he fired home a one-timer for what was his third goal in the last two games — and the 99th tally of his career.
“I think, for the most part, he’s shooting the puck more,” Lambert said about Barzal’s recent run. “That’s led to a bit more success, leads to more opportunities.”
The Islanders had gone 0-for-2 on the man advantage in the first period without generating many opportunities in the process; even when they outshot Columbus
As for Barzal, the goal-scoring touch has finally come his way. After posting three goals over his first 30 games of the season, he has five in his last seven.