The Islanders played tough defense, and Thomas Greiss took care of the rest.
Greiss made 31 saves in his fifth shutout of the season, helping the Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-0, on Monday night at Nassau Coliseum.
Ryan Pulock and Anders Lee scored as the Islanders (40-22-7) bolstered their playoff positioning in the tough Metropolitan Division, improving to 16-8-1 against divisional opponents.
“More than anything we raised our battle level,” Coach Barry Trotzky said. “That’s where it starts. At the end of the day Greiss made a couple of saves that were key, we got some key blocks and that’s how the Islanders win.”
Columbus (38-28-3) lost for the fourth time in six games, dropping into a tie with Montreal for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Sergei Bobrovsky made 18 saves, but the Blue Jackets were unable to get to the steady Greiss.
Pulock put the Islanders in front when he drove a slap shot past Bobrovsky 6 minutes 11 seconds into the first period. Pulock surpassed his point total from his rookie year, registering his 33rd point of his sophomore season.
Cal Clutterbuck assisted on the play in his first game back since being sidelined for three games with an upper-body injury.
“Whole team was battling,” said Greiss, who shut out the Blue Jackets for the second time this season. “We didn’t give them too much, we played a tight game. Most of the shots came from the outside; guys did a great job of blocking shots.”
In recent matchups against Philadelphia and Ottawa, the Islanders’ attention to detail had slipped, yielding 15 goals in four games. Facing Columbus in another big game, they returned to the disciplined philosophy Trotz had preached since his arrival.
“We were trying to play smart,” Josh Bailey, the alternate captain, said. “We still want to be aggressive when the time presents itself but first and foremost we want to take care of business in our own end. Sometimes that requires just making the trip out of the zone and getting fresh guys out there.”
The Blue Jackets’ best offensive chance came in the second period when Cam Atkinson rang a wrist shot off the post. Columbus also came up empty on three power-play opportunities.
OILERS 3, RANGERS 2 Leon Draisaitl scored 35 seconds into overtime, lifting host Edmonton over the Rangers. Connor McDavid, who opened the scoring with a first-period power-play goal, picked up one of the assists on Draisaitl’s 42nd goal of the season.
Brendan Lemieux and Brett Howden scored for the Rangers. (NYT)