UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — This weekend version of New York, New York could cost the Columbus Blue Jackets the playoff spot they are desperate to grab.
The Blue Jackets gave everything they had at home in a loss to the playoff-hopeful New York Rangers on Friday night and followed it up with a disheartening 2-0 defeat on Sunday to the New York Islanders, who are just playing out the string.
"It's the NHL. The other team is paid to play, too," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "There is no easy teams. Nobody took them lightly, nobody didn't understand the gravity of the situation, we just didn't score a goal."
Evgeni Nabokov made 41 saves in his 58th NHL shutout, and Travis Hamonic scored a coast-to-coast, power-play goal in the second period to pace the Islanders, who are third to last in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus had a total of 24 shots in the first two periods and then fired 17 in a desperate final frame when the Blue Jackets had four of their six power plays.
"If you can't come and push yourself every night, go do putt-putt or something," Johnson said. "Everyone tried. We knew how important this one was. I can't question anyone's effort. It was just a tough game."
The Blue Jackets' power play has gone 0 for 35 the past nine games. They will have to get better over the final 11 games, starting with a key home matchup on Tuesday against Detroit, which is neck and neck with Columbus in the playoff race.
Columbus, which has dropped to fifth in the Metropolitan Division, has fallen out of an Eastern Conference playoff position. The Blue Jackets have lost three of four.
"These points are huge right now," center Ryan Johansen said. "Against a team like the Islanders, who are playing spoiler right now, it's very frustrating. We've got to learn from it but we can't dwell on this."
Nabokov got the best of Russian counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky in their third meeting this season and posted his third shutout in this campaign. It was just the Islanders' second regulation win ever over the Blue Jackets.
Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders, who bounced back from a 6-0 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday and finished a 2-2 homestand.
"We were playing hard for our fans. We worked hard and we found a way to win," Nabokov said. "We knew they were playing a third game in four (days) and we wanted to make it tough for them."