New York Islanders

The New York Islanders sent a message to their potential opening-round opponent Blue Jackets with a dominant performance and a shutout win.

Matt Di Giacomo

In their most complete victory of the season, the New York Islanders set the tone towards their potential playoff opponent in the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Islanders got the push-back response they were looking for and then some after a 3-1 regulation loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Casey Cizikas drove the offense while the Islanders got back to their shutdown-style of defense and Thomas Greiss made all 31 saves.

There’s a good chance we see Casey Cizikas shoot in the first three frames of the next Islanders’ shootout after tonight.

He finished a perfect two-for-two on breakaways (one deke and one five-hole) and guiding the Isles penalty-kill which out-performed the Jackets’ only powerplay.

From front to back, it was arguably the Islanders’ most cohesive game of the season. Any pressure attempted by the Blue Jackets was met with pure resistance in every direction. The Islanders practically out-chanced the Jackets on their only powerplay with Cal Clutterbuck in with a couple of nifty chances from seemingly nothing.

That, and an unreal performance from Greiss. Through his last six starts, Greiss has three shutouts and has allowed a grand total of three goals with a 5-0-1 record.

Mathew Barzal‘s assist on Bailey’s goal was his first point in his last three games, the longest he’s gone without a point this season since early December (Dec. 1-6). The entire Isles top line came alive tonight and was rewarded appropriately.

Josh Bailey was another notable skater on the ice for the Islanders, scoring his second goal in the last 40 games and an important dagger in the heart of a potential comeback the Jackets had in the final minute of the second period.

As of the end of the game, the Islanders still maintain their five-point lead in the Metropolitan division, and in reality, complete a four-point game given they defeated a division foe.

At this point in the season, the Islanders skill is far from questioned but their true improvement in this season from last is staggering. With a healthy 25-plus games remaining in the regular season, the Islanders need just one more win to tie their total from last season.

The Washington Capitals begin their game against the San Jose Sharks at 10:30 p.m. ET in which Erik Karlsson is scratched. If the Sharks can take care of business in California, then the Isles have an opportunity to start building an insurmountable lead and capture their first division banner since 1988.

Another two points are in the bank for the New York Islanders as they return home to face the Edmonton Oilers for the first time this season Saturday night. It is also the final regular season game in Brooklyn, and may be their last game ever in Brooklyn.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.