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Game #76 Preview: Hey, This is Crazy, But Check the Standings, so Win maybe?

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The Columbus Blue Jackets look to bust out at the most important point in the season against the New York Islanders, a team that has shut them out in the last two meetings.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Lighthouse Hockey

New York Islanders, 44-25-7, 96 points, 2nd Metro, t-5th East

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Columbus Blue Jackets, 41-30-4, 86 points, 5th Metro, 9th East

From week to week, the vibe surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets seems to change on the daily. But things are very clear. Win and keep a chance at the playoffs alive. Lose and you only make the hole deeper to climb out of.

Entering play tonight two points out of the second wild card in the East, the Blue Jackets face a critical test against a club they have yet to beat this season in the New York Islanders. Since Columbus scored the first two goals against the Islanders in New York on Dec. 1, the Blue Jackets have been shutout ever since, losing that game first game, 3-2, and the last two meetings by scores of 3-0 and 2-0, respectively.

Player to Watch

Thomas Greiss has been the guy to absolutely fool the Blue Jackets’ offense — which is something every other team has been doing, too — as he enters play with 120-plus consecutive minutes of shutout hockey against them. It’s safe to assume he gets another crack at them tonight, having gone 3-0 against Columbus this year. We’ll have more on Greiss below, but on the season, he is 22-13-2, with a 2.29 GAA and .926 SV%.

Jackets Notes

You might say Artemi Panarin has been invisible for Columbus, on the goal-scoring front, only finding the back of the net once since his two goal game at the Blackhawks Feb. 16, but Panarin does have assists in four of the previous six games. ... Pierre-Luc Dubois recorded his first point of the month, a goal, in Sunday’s 5-0 win at the Canucks. ... Sergei Bobrovsky returned to action after a one-game absence for a reported injury he was said to be dealing with for a few weeks, and was brilliant in Sunday’s 21-save shutout. ... Bobrovsky now seven shutouts on the season, tying his career-high from 2016-17. ... Nick Foligno has missed the previous three games due to a personal matter. ... Columbus surrenders the seventh fewest shots a game (29.6), while the Islanders are tied-for-10th (30.7).

The Other Bench

What a difference a year can make. The Islanders are going to be in the playoffs, though they have yet to officially clinch a spot, but barring a catastrophic meltdown, they hold a firm grasp among the top three in the Metro division, just one point out of first for the division lead. Even after Barry Trotz’ team suffered 5-0, and 4-0 losses, to the Bruins and Canadiens last week, the team rebounded with victories against the Flyers and Coyotes over the weekend.

Goaltending has been the key for the team, as Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss are second and fourth in the league, respectively, among save percentage (Lehner: .928 SV% / Greiss: .926 SV%), and second and third in goals against average (Lehner: 2.17 / Greiss: 2.29). Trotz will look to keep both fresh and in the net for the handful of games left in the season as the duo has propelled the club to the best in the league in terms of GA/GP (2.36). Lehner also missed time this month after an injury in Ottawa after being run into by Brady Tkachuk.

We talked about it before the last game between these two teams, but the offense, while it was seventh in GF/GP last season (3.18), they are scoring just 2.74 a game this season, or 21st in the league. Anders Lee is the team goals leader with 27, while Mathew Barzal leads the club with 42 assists and 59 points.

Finally, here’s something Blue Jackets fans are familiar with.

On the injury front, Andrew Ladd (knee) left Sunday’s game and his status is questionable for tonight, while Valtteri Filppula is out four weeks due to an upper-body injury suffered against the Bruins last week.

Season Series

12/01/2018 CBJ 2 @ NYI 3
02/14/2019 NYI 3 @ CBJ 0
03/11/2019 CBJ 0 @ NYI 2
03/26/2019 NYI @ CBJ

Stats

NY Islanders Columbus
2.74 (21) GPG 3.03 (13)
2.36 (1) GAPG 2.89 (13)
14.5% (29) PP% 15.1% (28)
80.6% (17) PK% 84.5% (t-3)
47.45% (27) EV Corsi % 50.04% (13)
102.2 (t-1) EV PDO 100.0 (14)
Anders Lee, 27 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 38
Mathew Barzal, 42 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 52
Mathew Barzal, 59 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 77
Scott Mayfield, 66 PIM Leader Josh Anderson,
Pierre-Luc Dubois 60
21-13-3 Home / Road 20-16-2
6-4-0 Last 10 5-4-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Ryan Dzingel Matt Duchene Josh Anderson
Eric Robinson Riley
Nash

Boone Jenner

Brandon Dubinsky Alexander Wennberg Oliver Bjorkstrand
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Markus Nutivaara David Savard
Scott Harrington Adam McQuaid
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo / Keith Kinkaid

New York Islanders

Anders
Lee
Mathew Barzal Jordan Eberle
Josh
Bailey
Brock
Nelson
Andrew Ladd
Anthony Beauvillier Tanner Fritz Leo Komarov
Matt
Martin
Casey
Cizikas

Cal
Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy Johnny Boychuk
Adam Pelech Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews Scott Mayfield
Thomas Greiss
Robin Lehner