Nationwide Arena -- Columbus, OH
TV: MSG Plus Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, WRCN 103.9 FM
[sny-box]The Least You Should Know About the Blue Jackets... Columbus is coming into tonight's game off a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. The Blue Jackets are playing a league high 19 sets of back-to-back games and they have a record of 2-6-0 in the second game through eight sets... Ryan Johansen has been hot for the Blue Jackets. The 22-year-old star has scored a goal in five straight games and has recorded points in his last nine consecutive contests... The Blue Jackets haven't had as much success at home as they would like. Columbus is 9-9-2 at Nationwide arena.[/sny-box]
The Islanders took control of first place in the Metropolitan Division and will need a win tonight if they would like to stay there. For that to happen they will have beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio.
Both clubs are playing the second game of back-to-backs. The Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, while Columbus fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Unlike the Blue Jackets, the Isles have faired much better in the second game of a back-to-back set with a 5-1-0 record.
The Islanders will turn to Chad Johnson, who last started on December 23 against the Montreal Canadiens, after Jaroslav Halak was between the pipes on Friday in New Jersey. Johnson only had two starts in the month of December. He is 5-5-0 this season, with a 3.54 goals against average and a .867 save percentage.
Capuano said, according to Newsday's Mark Herrmann, that Johnson has "been working extremely hard."
The Islanders will also make some changes to their forward lines. Cal Clutterbuck will be back in the lineup, while Mikhail Grabovski will sit due to a lower body injury. Josh Bailey will play on the Islanders top line, while Michael Grabner will skate on a line with Nikolay Kulemin and Brock Nelson, according to Herrmann.
With Pittsburgh in action tonight -- the Penguins sit one point behind the Islanders for first place in the Metro -- a win is critical for the Isles to either maintain control of first or put some more space between themselves and the Penguins.
The Blue Jackets have also been gaining ground in the Metropolitan, with wins in 12 of their last 16 games and they will not be an easy opponent for the Isles. In the 2013-14 season, New York went 1-2-1 in four games against the Blue Jackets.
The Islanders will need a better start and overall performance than they had in New Jersey on Friday. Sloppy passing and decision making is something that cannot happen again or the Isles may not get as lucky as they did to get two points against the Devils.