The Columbus Blue Jackets will host the New York Islanders in their first of four meetings in 2016-17. The Blue Jackets enter Saturday with a chance to jump into second in the Metropolitan Division. On the other side, the Islanders start the day last in the Metro. That’s even after winning five of their last six games.
The Blue Jackets didn’t play particularly well on Friday. They were outshot, lost the special teams battle, but still won going away. Sergei Bobrovsky was the difference. He has now allowed two goals or less in 17 of 22 games, including in nine of his last 10 outings. He is expected to start tonight, as Curtis McElhinney skated in the morning with the scratches. Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an illness, but could draw back in tonight. John Tortorella will address the media later this afternoon.
The Islanders are coming off a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues. John Tavares scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season, while Anders Lee connected twice, including scoring the game-winner with just 7:18 left in the game. There is some question about which forwards will play for the Islanders tonight. Coach Jack Capuano said they had some decisions to make. Ryan Strome skated in the optional but appears questionable for tonight due to illness.
New York Islanders at Columbus Blue Jackets
Nationwide Arena – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and CD 102.5 FM.
Columbus Blue Jackets: 16-5-4, 36 points.
Home Record: 9-3-1
Hot Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner, Cam Atkinson
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (on LTIR), Nick Foligno (Illness)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Oliver Bjorkstrand (Nick Foligno day-to-day)
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Ryan Murray-Markus Nutivaara
Sergei Bobrovsky (Expected Starter)
New York Islanders: 11-10-5, 27 points.
Road Record: 2-6-1
Hot Players: John Tavares, Anders Lee
Key Injuries: Adam Pelech (Upper-Body), Ryan Strome (Illness)
Brock Nelson-John Tavares-Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd-Anthony Beauvillier-Shane Prince
Anders Lee-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nikolay Kulemin-Alan Quine-Jason Chimera
Nick Leddy-Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey-Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan-Dennis Seidenberg
1)The Blue Jackets are winners of five straight games coming into Saturday. They’ve now earned points in 20 of their 25 games, including seven straight and are 10-1-2 in their last 13 games. The Blue Jackets have the second-best points percentage in the league at .720, only trailing the Montreal Canadiens .722.
2)Nationwide Arena has been on the Blue Jackets side this season in a historic way. They are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games at home, outscoring their opponents 44-20 in that span. They enter tonight’s game third in the Metropolitan Division, just three points behind the first-place New York Rangers. Columbus has four games in hand on the Rangers entering Saturday.
3)The Islanders come into Saturday on a roll of their own. They’re 5-0-1 in their last six games, outscoring their opponents 20-12. Tonight marks just the Islanders’ 10th road game of the season, compared to 17 games played already at Barclay’s Center. They are just 2-6-1 on the road. However they won their last road outing, a 3-0 shutout of the Washington Capitals.
4)The Islanders have had the Blue Jackets number of late in their series. New York won all five meetings last season, scoring at least three goals in every game, outscoring the Blue Jackets 19-9. John Tavares has eight goals and 18 points in his career against Columbus. Cal Clutterbuck will play his 30th career game against Columbus. He has seven goals against them. He just signed a new five-year deal Friday.
The key to tonight’s game is who can manage the puck better. The Islanders expressed in their morning availability that they do not want to get into a track meet with the Blue Jackets because of how much speed they have. Whichever team can limit their turnovers will have the inside track to two points on Saturday night.