Pageau, Barzal lead Islanders past struggling Blue Jackets

NEW YORK (AP) — Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored in the second period, and the New York Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Thursday night.

Ilya Sorokin finished with 20 saves as the Islanders won their third straight game.

“That’s the way we want to play, be hard to play against,” Pageau said. “When you play well defensively, I always thought that creates offense. … Every team has good players, it’s the NHL, the best league in the world. You can’t take any team lightly. They are a hard-working team, well-coached. I thought we did what we had to do to win that game.”

The Blue Jackets dropped their seventh straight game and lost for the 10th time in 12 games overall. Emil Bemstrom scored the lone Columbus goal and Joonas Korpisalo made 34 saves.

Pageau opened the scoring at 7:12 of the second, displaying his two-way prowess with intelligent plays at both ends of the ice. He intercepted a drop pass in the defensive zone and then buried a loose puck that trickled past Korpisalo.

“There’s a lot of little things that he does that maybe don’t get noticed, they sure do by his teammates and by the coaching staff,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “Just a responsible guy that is taking the challenge of playing against the other team’s top lines every night, relishes that and does a real good job with it.”

The Islanders improved to 14-4-0 when scoring the first goal and 12-6 while playing at UBS arena this season.

Barzal connected on the power play at 16:39 of the second. Pageau prevented the Blue Jackets from clearing the zone and Brock Nelson delivered a cross-ice pass to set up Barzal.

“We did what we needed to do before a big trip,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said.

Marcus Bjork fired a shot from the point that deflected off Bemstrom in the final minute of play, spoiling Sorokin’s shutout bid.

“We didn’t generate much tonight,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “I don’t think some of our top guys had good nights. Give them credit, they take away your time and space, they are good at what they do.”

WORTH NOTING

Ross Johnston dressed for the Islanders for the first time since Nov. 29 with six regulars out of the lineup.

POWER PLAY DROUGHT SNAPPED

The Islanders went 1 for 3 on the power play, snapping a streak of 27 straight attempts without a power-play goal.

MILESTONE GAME

Islanders forward Casey Cizikas skated in his 700th game. The 31-year-old forward has spent his entire 12-year career with New York.

UP NEXT

Islanders: Visit the Seattle Kraken on Sunday, beginning a four-game West Coast road trip.

Blue Jackets: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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