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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 6th (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (31-35-11) at Columbus Blue Jackets (39-31-7), 6 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will continue their quest for the second postseason berth in franchise history when they host the New York Islanders in Sunday's clash at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus made its only trip to the postseason in the spring of 2009 when it was promptly swept out of the first round by Detroit. The Blue Jackets are one point ahead of both New Jersey and Toronto Maple for the last wild card spot in the East. With five games left, the Blue Jackets hold a game in hand over the Devils and two against the Maple Leafs. Both New Jersey and Toronto are idle on Sunday.
The Blue Jackets also have a chance to qualify for the postseason by claiming one of the Metropolitan Division's three automatic bids to the playoffs. Columbus is only two points behind third-place Philadelphia in the Metro with five games left for both teams. The Flyers, who dropped a 2-0 home decision against the Blue Jackets on Thursday, host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Columbus did miss an golden opportunity to strengthen its playoff case on Friday, when it lost a 4-3 home decision against the Chicago Blackhawks. The score was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes and the game appeared to be headed to overtime until Ben Smith scored with 3.9 seconds remaining in the third period to deliver the win for the Blackhawks and deny Columbus a valuable point.
The winning score came after a point shot by Duncan Keith went off Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky's glove and triggered a goal-mouth scramble, with Smith pushing the rebound into the open net.
"It doesn't matter it was a Western Conference team. I don't look at it that way. I just look at it as a chance to get points and we weren't able to do that," said Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards.
Bobrovsky had 34 saves for Columbus, while Artem Anisimov, Ryan Johansen and Derek MacKenzie each scored a goal in the setback.
Columbus forward Nathan Horton and defenseman Nikita Nikitin missed Friday's game and both players are questionable for Sunday with lower-body injuries.
The Blue Jackets expect to go with Bobrovsky in net again on Sunday. He is 9-2-0 with a 2.00 goals against average and .937 save percentage in 12 career games against the Islanders.
Columbus is playing the second part of a three-game homestand that will complete the club's regular-season home schedule. The Blue Jackets, who are 20-15-4 as the host this season, will cap the regular season on a two-game tour of Florida after welcoming Phoenix on Tuesday.
The Islanders, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, had a three- game winning streak halted in Saturday's 4-3 home loss to Washington. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the lone goal of the shootout as Washington captured the victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Cal Clutterbuck, John Persson and Frans Nielsen picked up a goal each for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 stops in defeat.
The Isles are playing four of their last five games on the road, where the club is 18-17-2 this season.
Columbus won the first two meetings against the Isles in 2013-14 to extend its series' winning streak to four games, but New York ended the run with a 2-0 home win over the Blue Jackets on March 23. Evgeni Nabokov frustrated Columbus in that game, stopping all 41 shots for the Islanders in the impressive shutout victory.
However, the Blue Jackets have dominated the Isles in Columbus over the years, posting a 7-0-1 record with a tie in the nine all-time meetings at Nationwide Arena.
04/06 11:30:53 ET