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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Blue Jackets

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t going to show each other much love in a Valentine’s Day showdown tonight at 7 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum.


The Metropolitan Division rivals will exchange hits and goals instead of chocolates and cards, meeting for the second of four meetings this season.

The Islanders beat the Jackets 5-2 on Jan. 10, scoring three unanswered goals in the second period en route to their first regulation win in Columbus. The Islanders have owned this matchup on Long Island, going 4-0-2 in their last six home games against the Blue Jackets.

The Islanders have won three straight games heading into tonight’s contest, beating the Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs all by 3-2 margins. Tonight’s date with the Jackets kicks off three straight games against Metropolitan Division opponents; the Isles are 17-2-0 in divisional games this season.

The Islanders are getting secondary scoring during their three-game run, as Colin McDonald and Casey Cizikas are both riding three-game point streaks. McDonald has four points (two goals, two assists) since being recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, while Cizikas has goals in two straight. The two hooked up for the game-winner on Tuesday and the Isles’ second goal Thursday.

Anders Lee is coming off of a two-goal game of his own, netting his 17th and 18th tallies of the season, including Thursday’s winner. The big-bodied winger is having a “Cy Young” season, as his goals-to-assists ratio (18-6) resembles that of a successful MLB starter. With the two goals, Lee is now tied for second place in the rookie goal-scoring lead, one behind Nashville’s Filip Forsberg.

Travis Hamonic is also streaking, having recorded at least one assist in four straight games.

The Blue Jackets are coming off of a 4-3 comeback overtime win the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the third period. Former-Islander James Wisniewski returned from a two-game absence Friday and set up Artem Anisimov’s game winner.

Scott Hartnell had an assist Friday, extending his point streak to five game (three goals, four assists). Hartnell hit a career milestone earlier this week, playing his 1000th career NHL game Monday. He was reunited with all-star linemates Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno on Friday. Foligno leads the Jackets with 51 points (21 goals, 30 assists), while Johnasen is second with 50 (20 goals, 30 assists).

The Jackets are still without Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been sidelined since late January with a groin injury. Backup Curtis McElhinney has assumed the starter’s role in place of Bobrovsky and is 3-1-0 in his last four games.

Puck drop between the Islanders and Blue Jackets goes at 7 p.m.

New York Islanders
36-18-1 (73 points – 1st in Metropolitan Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
19-6-0 home
Columbus Blue Jackets
24-26-3 (51 points - 6th in Metropolitan Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)
12-12-1 road
7:00  p.m.
Nassau Coliseum
Uniondale, NY

Television:
MSG+
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- Isles TV: One-Goal Games (Feb. 13)
- Frantic February (Feb. 13)
- Islanders 3, Maple Leafs 2 (Feb. 12)

What's Happening at the Coliseum:
- Lower Lobby: 5 p.m.; Doors Open: 5:45 p.m.
- Kyle Okposo Bobblehead Night
Islanders player to watch
Anders Lee - Forward

Anders Lee scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season Thursday, vaulting into second place tie in the rookie goal scoring race. He trails Nashville’s Filip Forsberg by one goal. Lee does lead all rookies in game-winning goals netting six this season. The big-bodied winger is most effective around the goal, where he has scored a majority of his 24 points (18 goals, six assists).
Blue Jackets player to watch
Scott Hartnell - Forward

Scott Hartnell hit a career milestone Monday, playing his 1000th career regular-season game. Hartnell is third on the Jackets in goals (13), assists (22) and points (35) and is key piece of Columbus’ offense. At 6’2, 210 lbs., Hartnell brings a big body and plays a physical, agitator-style game. He can score too, netting seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
27 Anders Lee - 91 John Tavares - 12 Josh Bailey
84 Mikhail Grabovski - 51 Frans Nielsen - 18 Ryan Strome
86 Nikolay Kulemin - 29 Brock Nelson - 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin - 53 Casey Cizikas - 13 Colin McDonald

Defensemen
37 Brian Strait - 3 Travis Hamonic
2 Nick Leddy - 55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey - 11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson

Columbus Blue Jackets previous game lines
Forwards
43 Scott Hartnell - 19 Ryan Johansen - 71 Nick Foligno
11 Matt Calvert - 17 Brandon Dubinsky - 13 Cam Atkinson
41 Alexander Wennberg - 42 Artem Anisimov - 10 Jack Skille
26 Corey Tropp - 55 Mark Letestu - 40 Jared Boll

Defensemen:
7 Jack Johnson - 58 David Savard
51 Fedor Tyutin - 29 Cody Goloubef
4 Kevin Connauton - 21 James Wisniewski

Goaltenders:
30 Curtis McElhinney
31 Anton Forsberg


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