Game Preview: NY Islanders v Columbus Blue Jackets
The NY Islanders are coming off a huge 7-2 victory at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cal Clutterbuck had a career-high three-point game, scoring two goals and one assist, with the second goal showing off that he can still snipe it. Ilya Sorokin, as we have become used to lately, made another save worthy of being a save of the year candidate, robbing Erik Gustafsson on the doorstep with his stick in the air. He made 25 saves on 27 shots in the win. Hudson Fasching continues to stay hot, scoring his fourth goal in his last seven games. Noah Dobson, Anders Lee, and J.G. Pageau all had two-point performances in a statement win while the Islanders are currently fighting to stay in the first wild card spot.
The Columbus Blue Jackets last outing was a high-scoring road game against the Washington Capitals that ended in overtime by a score of 7-6. Boone Jenner tied the game with 46.9 seconds remaining in the third period, setting up sudden death. Defenseman Adam Boqvist and Jack Roslovic both scored two goals, the latter of which scored the overtime winner by receiving a 2-on-1 pass from Johnny Gaudreau. Johnny Hockey ended up with two assists on the night, as did Patrik Laine and rookie Kent Johnson. Washington's playoff hopes look slim now after this loss, but Alex Ovechkin did net his 40th goal of the season, breaking another NHL record by recording his 13th 40-goal campaign.
These two clubs have already played three times this season, all of which coming in 2022. The Isles have taken all three, but they were all decided by just one goal. The first matchup saw Zach Parise score the overtime winner on a gutsy 2-on-1 finish while being interfered with by Laine. Scott Mayfield, Sebastien Aho, and Brock Nelson all had two points that night. Nelson scored the game-winner in their second matchup less than two weeks later in Columbus. Mathew Barzal had two assists in that game, and he kept it going against the Jackets by scoring the game-winner in their late-December matchup. Sorokin started all three games and allowed only six goals collectively in three contests.
Players to Watch
With the Islanders missing Barzal still due to injury and luckily avoiding losing Nelson in the lineup, Bo Horvat needs to take charge and get out of his offensive slump to spark the Isles' top-6. He has been criticized lately by fans for not producing, and while he has not been playing badly by any means, getting back on the scoresheet would only benefit New York. Horvat has scored five goals and four assists in 19 games wearing the blue and orange but has just one point in his past nine. The former Vancouver Canuck at one point was on pace to score 50 this season but has since cooled off. Luckily for the Islanders, their bottom six has been on fire lately, but Horvat should be looking to get out of the rut against a weaker defensive opponent.
Patrik Laine has been on fire offensively for Columbus despite the fact that they are at the bottom of the standings. The former 2016 second-overall pick has five goals and nine assists in his last ten games, registering two assists his in most recent two games. Anyone who has watched Laine play knows how much of a threat he is with his lethal shot, especially on the man advantage. Columbus has the 25th-ranked power play in the league this season, but he is certainly a player that the Isles will need to watch closely.