The Islanders will be going for their first winning streak in almost two months on Friday night.
That hard-to-believe fact becomes even more head-scratching when they show they’re capable of dominating team efforts such as Thursday night’s 6-0 win over the overmatched Blue Jackets at UBS Arena. It was the Islanders’ largest margin of victory this season and matched their most goals for a game.
Capping the feel-good night, Anders Lee completed his first career hat trick with a power-play goal with 1.4 seconds to go in the third period and has five goals in his last two games.
"It’s one of those nights the puck just kind of found me," Lee said. "Great looks from some of the guys and just an overall really good team effort."
Ilya Sorokin made 25 saves for his sixth shutout of the season. He made a game-turning save on Boone Jenner’s shorthanded breakaway at 9:37 of the first period with the game still scoreless.
The Islanders’ penalty kill went 5-for-5 with a shorthanded goal and the power play was 2-for-3.
"Just to see Leesy finish that one, I think everyone on the ice was trying to find him," said Jean-Gabriel Pageau, whose shorthanded one-timer gave the Islanders a 4-0 lead at 17:44 of the second period. "I think everyone was just happy for him. He’s been outstanding for us the way he leads the team day in and day out and the way he comes in to work every day."
The Islanders (22-24-8), still 20 points behind the Capitals for a playoff spot, will continue their six-game homestand against the Jets on Friday. They will be looking to win consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 4-6. Their last winning streak was a three-game spurt from Jan. 17-21.
"It’s nice that we can come back tomorrow and get another game under us and continue to build it and finish as strong as we can," said Lee, who gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead at 13:49 of the second period from the left circle, then made it 5-0 at 11:57 of the third period by knocking in his own rebound at the crease. "We’ve been through a lot and it’s made us stronger in a lot of aspects. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves."
"The way the season has gone, ups and downs, expectations from the group, from outside, I think everybody is aware of all that," said Brock Nelson, who opened the scoring with the Islanders’ first five-on-three power-play goal of the season at 10:32 of the first period.
"Maybe it adds a little bit of emotion and pressure. But that’s just part of the job and you have to find a way to kind of fight through that. I think everybody is upset and wants to turn it and get better and get on a roll."
Josh Bailey gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead at 6:08 of the second period, connecting on a forehand as he skated to the crease after Kyle Palmieri won a battle along the right wall and fed him the puck.
It was his fourth goal of the season as he snapped a 19-game drought.
"It felt good," said Bailey, who missed a wide-open look at the net with a backhander in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Avalanche with the game still tied 1-1 late in the second period. "You go through stretches like this throughout the course of your career. You just stick with it. There’s only one way through it. You can’t get around it."
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 27 shots for the Blue Jackets (28-27-3), who have lost four straight.