The Islanders close out a two-game road trip at Columbus' Nationwide Arena on Friday evening, their first multi-game trip of the season. The Isles are riding a three-game win streak, in which they've rallied from behind to win in all three games. With a win over Winnipeg on Thursday, the Isles are over NHL .500 for the first time this season.
The Blue Jackets are coming off of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, snapping a two-game winning streak. The Blue Jackets led 2-1 in the third period, but Chicago's Alex DeBrincat scored a power-play goal to send the game to overtime as Jonathan Toews sealed the Blackhawks victory with 46 seconds remaining in the extra period. Blue Jackets rookie goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves in his second NHL game.
Last season against the Blue Jackets, the Islanders went 3-1-0 against their Metropolitan Division rivals. Thomas Greiss had shutouts in two of the Isles games, while Columbus' sole win was a 4-0 blanking on March 26.
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
- Thomas Greiss was the first goalie off at morning skate. Greiss has made three starts this season and has recorded two wins. Head Coach Barry Trotz noted he's likely to continue altering the goaltender tandem to keep both Greiss and Semyon Varlamov sharp. Greiss posted two shutouts against Columbus last season.
"It's more in the mindset of keeping both of them sharp," coach Trotz said. "I don't think we're playing a lot of games [coming up]. It's just keeping them sharp. We're going to need both goalies."
- Matt Martin took line rushes with Leo Komarov and Cal Clutterbuck while Ross Johnston rotated as an extra and stayed on the ice for extra work as the morning skate finsihed. Martin has been a healthy scratch for the last three games.
- Joonas Korpisalo will start in goal for the Blue Jackets. Dean Kukan will replace Ryan Murray on the Blue Jackets blue line.
- Mathew Barzal scored twice for the Islanders in a 3-1 win over Winnipeg on Thursday. Barzal is tied with Josh Bailey with a team-high six points (3G, 3A) through seven games played this season. In his three-year NHL career, the 22-year-old center has scored six times in six games against the Jets, the most against any team he's faced.
- Bailey scored on Winnipeg's empty net. Bailey has six points (3G, 3A) through seven games played this season.
- Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves to pick up his second win with the Islanders. This season, Varlamov has a 2.55 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.
- Barzal's first goal came just 16 seconds into the Isles lone power play on Thursday. The Islanders PP is 4-for-12 (33.33%) on the season.
- The Islanders have had to battle their way to win the last three games, allowing the opening goal in all three contests. This season, the Isles have been outscored 8-3 in the first period. Their only even-strength goal in the first period came from Devon Toews in the home opener on Oct. 4.
- #Brocktober is in full effect, as Nelson has five points (3G, 2A) in seven games this season and has a career statline of 26-22-48 in 67 career October games. While Nelson didn't make his way onto the scoresheet last night, the Isles second line center continued to make crucial contributions. Nelson went 15-for-34 (54%) on faceoffs against the Jets, taking 54% of his team's draws.
- Oliver Wahlstrom played in his second NHL game with the absence of top line right-winger Jordan Eberle who is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury he sustained against the Panthers on Oct. 12.
- Casey Cizikas is on IR with a lower-body injury that he contracted in the Isles preseason finale against the New York Rangers.
- Matt Martin and Noah Dobson have been healthy scratches for the last three games.
- The Blue Jackets return a fairly different lineup than the one that advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last season. Two-time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky signed with Florida, Artemi Panarin signed with the New York Rangers, Matt Duchene inked a deal with Nashville, Ryan Dzingel signed in Carolina.
- The Blue Jackets still retain a young, talented core in Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cam Atkinson. Gustav Nyquist was Columbus' marquee offseason acquisition and is currently playing on their top line.
- The Blue Jackets are 3-3-0 to start the season and have six points.
- Joonas Korpisalo has gotten five of the Blue Jackets six starting nods to start the season. The 25-year-old Finn has a goals against average of 2.60 and a save percentage of .903 in that span.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois is tied with Alexander Wennberg a team-high four points in seven games played. Dubois (3G, 1A) scored the Blue Jackets first goal against Chicago on Friday night.
- Columbus' power play went 0-for-4 against Chicago and is ranked 24th in the league with a conversion percentage of 13.6%. Columbus' PK unit is tanked 22nd in the league with a kill percentage of 73.9%.
- Forward Josh Anderson has missed five-straight games with an upper-body injury, but skated at practice on Thursday.
- Columbus returns home on Saturday to take on the Isles for their third set of back-to-backs this month.