UNIONDALE, NY—Fourteen players on the Islanders roster had scored more goals than Rob Schremp entering last night’s shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
But coach Scott Gordon entrusted the 23-year-old to break a deadlock in the skills session despite Schremp logging
just one regulation goal through his first 18 games this season.
The move paid dividends as Schremp tallied the only shootout goal while Dwayne Roloson made 41 saves to lift the Islanders to a 2-1 win over Columbus on Tuesday night.
Schremp has only one goal in 26 career games. Yet the Syracuse native responded to the call by waiting for a moment before lifting a forehand past Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason for the game-winner.
“He’s one of our most skilled players,” Gordon said. “His hands are second to none on our team. It wasn’t a hard decision to pick him for the shootout.
Roloson stopped Kristian Huselius and Rick Nash on pad saves before blanking Fedor Tyutin in the third round to secure the win after Schremp’s goal. Roloson’s save total marked the second time he cracked the 40-pleatau this season. The other occasion came during a career-high 58 saves against Toronto on Nov. 23.
Josh Bailey ended a 14-game stretch without a goal with a first-period tally. The Islanders (16-18-7) concluded a stretch of eight-of-10 games at home yet failed to make up significant ground, going just
3-5 at Nassau Coliseum.
The Isles offense entered with a league-low 97 goals and the lowest goals-per-game average. Despite the paltry goal-scoring, two of the last three home games ended in wins and the loss was a 2-1 decision to Atlantic Division-rival Philadelphia. The Islanders now play four of its next five on the road starting Thursday against Ottawa.
“We’re finally starting to get our swagger back at home,” Bailey said. “You have to take it game-by-game and hopefully we can focus
on Ottawa now and get a win there.”
Columbus, like the Islanders, played its third consecutive one-goal game. Umberger’s backhand goal with 10:13 left in regulation salvaged a point for the Blue Jackets one night after a win over the defending Western Conference champion Detroit Red Wings.
Roloson prevented Columbus from earning two points, stopping all of Nash’s six shots before making a nifty save on the four-time 30-goal scorer in the shootout.
Nash, who has 213 career goals at age 25, said his Blue Jackets (15-18-8) are starting to improve after earning points in consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 10.
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves, but every point matters,” Nash said. “When you play against an Eastern Conference team, even a single point is a big deal. This little stretch before the break, we’re going to need to win as many games as we can to make up some ground.”
Defenseman Milan Jurcina and forward Chris Clark played their first games for the Blue Jackets after coming to Columbus in a Monday trade with the Washington Capitals for winger winger Jason Chimera. Clark, who served as Washington’s captain, logged one shot shot in 13:49 of ice time. Jurcina played 21:31.
“We added two more good guys here,” Umberger said. “Clark is going to add a lot of leadership and veteran presence. Let’s see what happens here the next couple of games and get some more points.”
The Islanders power play was scoreless on four opportunities and is 1 for 37 in the past nine games.