Isles head to Columbus looking for 2nd road win
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The New York Islanders will try to complete a sweep of a brief two-game road trip when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
New York opened the trip with a 3-1 victory at Winnipeg on Thursday to extend its winning streak to three games. Mathew Barzal scored two goals in the second period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead, and Josh Bailey sealed the victory with an empty-netter.
"It was a great second period. It won us the game," Barzal said. "In the third period, we locked it down. We rallied the last two games. We've just got to keep it going. The chemistry is coming along, the power play is coming as well, the pieces are coming together."
It was the third straight come-from-behind victory for New York, which started its streak with a 3-2 shootout win over the Florida Panthers and then scored two goals in the final six minutes of the third period en route to a 3-2 overtime victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday.
New York also got a big game Thursday from goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced and helped the Isles weather a first period that saw them get outshot 16-5. It was the first road win of the season for New York, which played five of its first six games at home.
"Every time you go on a road trip, you want to win the first game," Varlamov said. "It sets the tone. We did that. This was a big game for us today. First win on the road. We've got to keep going and play the same way."
Islanders coach Barry Trotz was glad to take his team, which plays 12 of its first 17 games at home, away from New York.
"We needed to get on the road," Trotz said. "We were getting a little stale. ... Training camp and the early part of our schedule was home heavy."
Columbus will be playing the second half of a back-to-back that started with a 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago on Friday night. Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner when Patrick Kane's shot from the bottom of the right circle caromed off of the pads of goaltender Elvis Merzlikins into the shin pad of Toews and then into the goal.
Merzlikins, a two-time winner of the Jacque Plante Trophy awarded to the top goaltender in the Swiss National League, finished with 30 saves in his second career NHL start. He allowed seven goals in a loss at Pittsburgh on Oct. 5 in his debut.
"He should be proud of himself. He played a very good game, gave us a chance to win," teammate Pierre-Luc Dubois, who scored his 50th career goal in the contest, told NHL.com.
Merzlikins said, "Of course, it was not the result that I wanted. I came here to the rink with the mindset that I was going to win my first game. I was really (ticked) off. I wanted to take this game. I really wanted it."
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Blue Jackets, who are 3-1-1 in their past five games, with all five decided by one goal, including two in overtime.
With Merzlikins playing Friday, Columbus' No. 1 goalie, Joonas Korpisalo, likely will start Saturday. Korpisalo, 3-2-0 with a 2.60 goals-against average, has won each of his past two starts.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 19, 2019