NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 7th
(All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (34-36-11) at Columbus Blue Jackets (28-46-7), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to finish a dismal
2011-12 campaign on a high note, as they host the New York Islanders in the
season finale for both clubs at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets came into this season expecting to compete for a playoff
spot, but an eight-game losing streak to begin 2011-12 would be a sign of
things to come.
By the end of February, Columbus owned a dismal 18-38-7 record, but the club
has done well down the stretch, posting a 10-8-0 mark over the last 18 games.
The Blue Jackets, who will finish last in the NHL standings, have won four of
their last five games and are coming off Thursday's decisive win at Colorado.
Cam Atkinson netted his first career hat trick to lead the Blue Jackets to a
5-2 victory over the Avalanche, a win that officially knocked Colorado out of
playoff contention. Not only did Atkinson pick up his first hat trick, it was
his the first multi-point game of his career. The rookie entered the game with
two goals and six assists in the NHL.
"They kept putting me out there at the end," said Atkinson. "Thank God I got
the goal because I was just running out of gas."
Rick Nash also scored twice before leaving with an undisclosed injury and
Steve Mason made 35 saves for the Blue Jackets.
Nash, who is questionable for tonight, may have played his last game in a
Columbus uniform. The Blue Jackets tried unsuccessfully to deal the superstar
winger before this year's trade deadline and the club is expected to continue
to shop Nash this offseason.
Selected by Columbus with the first overall pick of the 2002 draft, Nash is
the franchise's all-time leader in goals (288), assists (258), points (546)
and games played (673).
The Blue Jackets are 16-21-3 as the host this year.
While Columbus will miss the postseason for the 10th time in its 11th season
in existence, the once-proud Islanders will sit out the playoffs for a fifth
The Islanders were at least able to complete their home schedule with a
victory, as they notched a 5-4 win over Winnipeg on Thursday. The win gave New
York a 17-18-6 record as the host this year and the club is just 17-18-5 on
Michael Grabner scored two goals in the third period, including the game-
winner inside the final minute, as the Islanders downed the Jets at Nassau
Coliseum. Kyle Okposo added two goals, while Matt Moulson also lit the lamp
for the Islanders. Al Montoya stopped 21 shots in the victory.
"We're playing for pride here and you obviously want to win any game that you
are in no matter what point of the season it is," said Moulson. "It was a good
game for us to finish at home on."
The contest also marked the 1,000th career game for Islanders defenseman Steve
Tonight's test marks the lone meeting between the Isles and Jackets this
season. The clubs last played each other on Nov. 24, 2010, when Columbus
recorded an overtime win on Long Island.
04/07 10:49:36 ET