Don't look now, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are tied for the NHL lead in points.
Thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn Saturday, the Blue Jackets have 98 points, where they sit tied atop the standings with the Washington Capitals.
In a game Columbus dominated over the first 40, they were able to leave town with two crucial points.
Despite the strong start, the Islanders got on the board first thanks to a Travis Hamonic blast that beat Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo at 14:18 of the first.
One minute into the second, Jackets sniper Oliver Bjorkstrand got his sixth of the season when he scooped up a New York turnover, skated into the slot and abused Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss glove side and into the shelf. The goal was unassisted and beautiful, as are most things Bjorkstrand does.
“It was a 2-on-1 and I got it – quick release, maybe surprised the goalie and I think it did,” Bjorkstrand said.
With five minutes remaining in the second, the Jackets struck again. Rookie Zach Werenski found the captain, Nick Foligno, up ice on a beautiful pass. Foligno skated in, lifted his left leg to fake a shot and then slid a pass to to Josh Anderson in the slot for Anderson's 16th of the season. The goal made it 2-1, Blue Jackets, and they were playing well.
“It looked like he was going to shoot the puck there and had the goalie compete and all I had to do was tap it in,” Anderson said.
And then came the third period.
The Islanders dominated play for much of the third, eventually getting the tying goal at 8:48 on a 55-foot blast from John Tavares, his 27th of the season.
The teams would skate scoreless the rest of the way, setting up three-on-three overtime.
1:19 into the extra session, Werenski found Brandon Dubinsky with a slick pass through traffic. Dubinsky carried the puck behind the net and found Cam Atkinson creeping on the foot of the goal and Atkinson, a goal-scorer's goal-scorer, banged in the winner.
It was Atkinson's 33rd goal of the season, tying him for fourth in the NHL, and his seventh game-winner of the year, which tied a club record.
Korpisalo got the win for Columbus, stopping 20 of the 22 shots he faced. The backup goalie now has two wins against the Islanders in the last month.
“We found another way to win. It was a team desperate to make the playoffs. I thought we battled hard today and found a way to win,” Anderson said of the two points. “We needed the points and knew they needed the points, too.”
Werenski Keeps Climbing
Werenksi's two assists gave him 46 points on the season, padding the club rookie record he's held since topping Rick Nash's 39 set during the 2002-03 season. His 11 goals, 35 assists and +21 plus-minus rating are all tops among rookie defensemen in the NHL.
And we're just going to continue to run this table every time he does something great.
|1||LARRY MURPHY||LOS ANGELES KINGS||1980-81||19||76|
|2||PHIL HOUSLEY||BUFFALO SABRES||1982-83||18||66|
|3||RAY BOURQUE||BOSTON BRUINS||1979-80||19||65|
|4||TYLER MYERS||BUFFALO SABRES||2009-10||19||48|
|BRYAN BERARD||NEW YORK ISLANDERS||1996-97||19||48|
|6||ZACH WERENSKI||COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS||2016-17||19||46|
Tie-Breaker Brain Freeze
The Blue Jackets are tied atop the NHL standings with the Washington Capitals at 98 points. Washington actually owns the tie-breaker, for now, though, because of an arcane rule that boils down to the teams not having played an even number of home games against each other.
Here's the language direct from the NHL rulebook:
If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included.
That means three points for Washington and two for Columbus in the season series. The teams have two games against each other remaining.
The Blue Jackets are back on the ice Sunday at New Jersey (1p, FSOH). Columbus won the last game between the two teams, 2-0, on March 7.