(SportsNetwork.com) - The first-place New York Islanders will shoot for wins on consecutive nights when they continue a lengthy road trip with Saturday's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Islanders picked up a dramatic overtime victory Friday night in New Jersey and the two points earned allowed New York to leap over idle Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins, who play tonight in Montreal, are one point behind the Isles.
John Tavares was the hero for the Islanders in Friday's 3-2 win over the Devils. The captain tied the game late in the third period and won it in overtime with an impressive sequence.
Tavares lifted the stick of Devils defenseman Adam Larsson below the goal line to acquire the puck, moved in on net and finished the play with a wrister past the blocker of Keith Kinkaid for the win.
"We just kept shooting pucks and it finally paid off," Tavares said. "I just took it to the net. The goalie committed to me and I hit the far side."
Tavares also assisted on a goal by Josh Bailey and Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves in his sixth straight start for the Islanders, who ended a two-game skid and improved to 3-2-0 on a seven-game road trip that ends Tuesday against the rival New York Rangers.
Backup Chad Johnson could give Halak a breather tonight. Johnson is 2-0 with a 1.45 goals against average in his career against Columbus, while Halak is 8-4-1 with a 2.65 GAA in this matchup.
Tonight's clash marks the first of four scheduled meetings this season between the Metropolitan Division foes. Columbus has beaten up on the Isles in recent years, winning five of the last six games and scoring four or more goals four times during that span.
The Islanders, who are 13-9-1 on the road this season, only have managed one win in their 10 all-time trips to Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets own an 8-0-1 record with a tie when facing New York at home.
Columbus, however, is coming off a loss on Friday, as it capped a four-game road trip with a 5-2 setback in Toronto. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak and gave the Blue Jackets a 2-2-0 record on the swing. It also dropped the Jackets' record since the start of December to 12-3-1.
Toronto scored four times in the first period en route to the win and outshot the Blue Jackets by a 32-20 margin. The Leafs also converted 2-of-4 power-play opportunities.
"Too many unforced errors, too many penalties. There were some plays we had to execute and we didn't do it. They got a good team with some high-end skill and they made us pay," said Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky.
Sergei Bobrovsky gave up four goals on 31 shots hours after signing a four- year contract extension with the Blue Jackets. The 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner inked a deal worth a reported $29.7 million.
Ryan Johansen extended his goal streak to a career-high five games, supplying both tallies in only Columbus' fourth loss of the past 16 games.
The Blue Jackets hope to return to the win column tonight when they open a three-game homestand. Columbus is 9-9-2 as the host and also will welcome Montreal and the Rangers during this stay at Nationwide Arena.
It's uncertain if Bobrovsky will get the start on consecutive nights, but he does boast a stellar 10-2-0 record and 1.83 GAA over 13 career appearances against the Isles. Backup Curtis McElhinney is 2-1-0 with a 2.11 GAA in three lifetime games versus New York.