BLUE JACKETS (30-38-8) at ISLANDERS (41-25-9)
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV
SYOSSET, N.Y. - Goalie Thomas Greiss will start for the New York Islanders when they continue their playoff push against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Barclays Center on Thursday.
Greiss, who became the starter when Jaroslav Halak sustained a lower-body injury on March 8, ended a personal four-game losing streak with a 26-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Jean-Francois Berube allowed a total of four goals in wins against the Ottawa Senators last Wednesday and at Carolina on Saturday.
"He's playing great and he has to continue to play great for us," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said of Greiss, who will make his NHL career-high 35th start.
Coach Jack Capuano said prior to the morning skate that he'll stick with the same 18 skaters he used in the win against the Hurricanes. However, he also said he might tweak his lines again, playing John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo together. Capuano used his three top scorers on the same line in some offensive situations against Carolina.
"When you put [Tavares, Nielsen and Okposo] together, you put probably your three best offensive, smart, players on one line," Capuano said. "It's a skill line. … You might see a little bit of them. They're veteran guys and they understand the game."
The Islanders enter the game holding the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, and one reason is that they've won all four of their games against Columbus this season. But with their next four games against teams that have qualified for the playoffs or are close to doing so, the Islanders know they can't take the Blue Jackets lightly.
"They still have a lot to play for; there are jobs on the line," Boychuk said. "We have to bring our intensity and play a simple game."
The Blue Jackets did not have a morning skate.
It will be a big night for Columbus rookie forward Sonny Milano, who will make his NHL debut against the team he grew up rooting for.
Milano, the 16th player taken in the 2014 NHL Draft, was recalled Wednesday from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League. He grew up in Massapequa, N.Y., about 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders' home from their entry into the NHL in 1972 until they moved to Brooklyn this season. His family had season tickets at the Coliseum.
"It's obviously unbelievable," Milano told Blue Jackets website. "It's Brooklyn now, but it's where I'm from, so it's extra special. I'll have a lot of family and friends there."
Milano, who will wear No. 22, made a quick impression on coach John Tortorella at his first practice.
"I watched him today and he can fly," Tortorella said. "I mean, he can skate. I'm anxious to see him play."
Even Capuano is eager to see what the Long Island native can do in the NHL.
"I've seen him play a little bit," he said. "I wish him nothing but the best of luck, after tonight's game. It's always something that you'll remember; your first NHL game in your home town in front of your family and friends."
Here are the projected lineups:
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad
Scott Hartnell - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
William Karlsson - Gregory Campbell - Matt Calvert
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Dalton Prout - David Savard
Dean Kukan - Cody Goloubef
Scratched: Jared Boll, John Ramage, Justin Falk
Injured: Fedor Tyutin (undisclosed), David Clarkson (lower body), Jack Johnson (shoulder), Curtis McElhinney (knee)
Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Ryan Strome
Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Shane Prince
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey - Brian Strait
Injured: Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Marek Zidlicky (upper body), Adam Pelech (upper body)
Scratched: Eric Boulton, Steve Bernier, Ryan Pulock
Status report: Kukan, who made his NHL debut in a 5-1 loss at the Nashville Predators on Saturday, was an emergency recall Wednesday. Columbus also recalled Falk from Lake Erie under emergency conditions Thursday.
Who's hot: Jenner has goals in three of the Blue Jackets' past four games. Atkinson scored his NHL career-high 27th goal in a 4-1 loss at the Washington Capitals on Monday. … Leddy's assist on Anders Lee's game-tying goal Tuesday was his 34th of the season, matching his career high. He has a career-best 39 points.