COLUMBUS — With what lies ahead, it was particularly refreshing for the Columbus Blue Jackets to have a rare game that didn’t come down to the final seconds.
Boone Jenner and Mark Letestu each had a goal and an assist, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots for his second shutout in 72 hours to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the New York Islanders 4-0 today
“We seem not to do anything the easy way,” Letestu said with a laugh. “To get four (games) in five (days) to finish off the season, it’s very Blue Jacket of us — doing things the hard way and probably earning our way into the playoffs.”
Columbus ends its home schedule on Tuesday night against Phoenix and then closes the regular season with games at Dallas on Wednesday, then at Tampa Bay and Florida on Friday and Saturday.
The win not only boosted the Blue Jackets in the standings, it also helped them wipe away the bitter taste of Friday night’s 4-3 home loss to Stanley Cup champion Chicago. Ben Smith jammed in a goal during a scrum with 3.9 seconds left in the Blackhawks’ win.
“That was one of those (where) it’s a punch in the gut,” coach Todd Richards said. “So, yeah, it was nice to get that one to put (Friday’s loss) in the distance.”
The Blue Jackets, desperate to hang on to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, matched a season high with three power-play goals.
It wasn’t lost on Jenner that his first goal was similar to Smith’s on Friday. The goalie made the initial stop, but then couldn’t get to a loose puck while several players crashed the net, sticks flying, all trying to get to it.
“Especially with that first power play, we wanted to get on them early,” Jenner said. “It was a big goal.”
Camped at the doorstep, he tipped a shot by Letestu that Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson got a piece of, but the puck slipped between his pads and rested behind him, just short of the goal line. It sat there for 3 seconds before Jenner worked his way around the goalie and jammed it in for his 14th at 4:26.
On their next power play, the Blue Jackets swiveled the puck from the left boards to right, with Johnson tucking a one-timer inside the far post. It was his first goal in 21 games and fifth this season.
Ryan Murray also ended a long scoring drought, and Brandon Dubinsky had two assists. Bobrovsky, who won at Philadelphia 2-0 on Thursday, earned his fifth shutout of the season. He improved to 10-2 against the Islanders while allowing just under two goals a game.
Columbus won at home after going 1-4-2 in its last seven games at Nationwide Arena.
“We’ve let some slip away, so we were pretty focused on not letting that happen,” said Letestu, whose even-strength goal midway through the second period ended a string of 22 games in which he had not scored. “That was an important two points.”
Columbus has 87 points, two fewer than Philadelphia — the third-place team in the Metropolitan Division race — which beat Buffalo on Sunday night.
The Blue Jackets currently hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They created some breathing room Sunday as New Jersey and Toronto are now three points behind them, and Washington is another point behind those teams.
Nilsson made 29 saves for the Islanders, who had their seven-game point streak (5-0-2) ended. Despite being without top players John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, they had played well with a lineup stocked with 10 rookies.
“To be honest with you, this is the first game in a while I feel we weren’t there collectively as a group,” Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic said. “We’ve been playing some really good hockey, especially the young players.”
New York coach Jack Capuano conceded this was a step back in the learning process.
“We’ve got some games left with these kids and we’re going to go out and teach and play structured and work hard,” he said.
NOTES: The Blue Jackets had failed to convert on 36 consecutive power plays, but they have turned things around by going 9 for 24 in the seven games since that drought. ... Jenner’s 14 goals are the second most by a Blue Jackets rookie (Rick Nash, 17 in 2002-03). ... D Scott Mayfield made his NHL debut for the Islanders. ... Nilsson faced the Blue Jackets for the first time.