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Reply To: NHL • Saturday Service Plays • 12/12/15

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Preview: NY Islanders at Columbus

When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

The New York Islanders haven’t been shy about winning the close contests to continue their ascent in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders look to extend their point streak to nine games on Saturday when they conclude a three-game road trip against the cellar-dwelling Columbus Blue Jackets.

New York ventured past regulation for the fourth straight contest as Jaroslav Halak denied all three attempts in the shootout to preserve a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday. Halak turned aside all 37 shots he faced in a 4-0 triumph over Columbus on Oct. 20 and could get the nod with the team slated to play New Jersey on Sunday. While the Islanders are 6-0-2 in their last eight, the Blue Jackets have dropped five of six and are dealing with the expected three-week absence of 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body). Curtis McElhinney has struggled in his place, permitting two late goals in a 3-2 overtime setback to Los Angeles on Tuesday before getting blitzed by Winnipeg two nights later in a 6-4 loss.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-Plus (New York), FSN Ohio (Columbus)

ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (16-8-5): John Tavares has failed to dent the scoresheet in three straight games and five of his last seven, but the captain seems to perk up when facing the Blue Jackets. Tavares tallied in his fourth consecutive encounter with Columbus two months ago and Cal Clutterbuck also tallied, but the latter is doubtful for Saturday’s tilt due to an upper-body injury. “We have a lot of hockey coming up,” coach Jack Capuano told Newsday. “I don’t want to put guys in a situation where we don’t feel they’re close to 100 percent and they re-injure themselves.”

ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (11-17-2): Scott Hartnell is riding high with one goal in each of his last three games to pull into a tie with Boone Jenner for the team lead with 12 tallies. Hartnell, whose 21 points are just one shy of Ryan Johansen, has collected 20 goals and 20 assists in 50 career meetings with the Islanders. Johansen has three assists in his last two games and a club-best 16 on the season.

OVERTIME

1. With a 5-0-2 record, New York is the only team in the NHL to earn at least a point in every divisional game this season.

2. The Blue Jackets are 9-2-1 with one tie all-time versus the Islanders at Nationwide Arena.

3. New York has killed off all 18 short-handed situations in the past seven games.

PREDICTION: Islanders 4, Blue Jackets 2