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Blue Jackets and Isles meet in regular-season finale
(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 straight spring.
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 the road.
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 Staios.
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 11:23:15 ET