Two important points are on the line when the Islanders meet the Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena.
After tonight the Islanders (45-27-5) have four games remaining in the regular season. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot sits at six, so a combination of a win tonight and a loss by the Ottawa Senators will push them closer to their goal. Although defeating the Blue Jackets will be no easy task.
Columbus (37-35-4) has won their last seven games and forward Ryan Johansen is ridding an eight game point streak. He has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) during that span.
The Islanders will add a veteran presence to the lineup tonight, putting Eric Boulton in the spot of Tyler Kennedy.
"Boulton is a good leader," Isles Coach Jack Capuano told reporters this morning. "He’s an older guy, he’s been through this before and gives us that physical presence that we need and that emotion on the bench during the course of the game that we need as well."
Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders and the defense will remain the same as it was on Sunday.
Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal for Columbus. He has six straight victories and has a .938 save percentage during the course of that streak. Defenseman Jack Johnson was ill this morning and he will be a game time decision for the Blue Jackets. Forward Jared Boll will be in the lineup.
This is the third of four meetings between the Isles and Blue Jackets. New York is 2-0-0 against Columbus this season, beating the Blue Jackets 5-2 on January 10 and 6-3 on February 14. Halak was in net for the 6-3 win at Nassau Coliseum and made 34 saves.
The Islanders will see the Blue Jackets one final time on April 11 for the final regular season game at Nassau Coliseum.