(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders hope to record consecutive wins for the first time in over a month on Thursday when they visit the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
The Islanders ended a rough March with a victory, beating the visiting Detroit Red Wings, 5-4, on Sunday. It was just the fourth win of the month for New York, which logged a 4-6-3 record in March.
The last time the Isles were able to string together two wins was on Feb. 24 and 27 when they beat Arizona and Calgary at home.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have won seven straight and can match a club record for consecutive victories tonight. They went 11-4 in March, setting a new franchise mark for most wins in a single month. However, the surge won't help get Columbus into the postseason as it was officially eliminated from playoff contention after Boston beat Florida on Tuesday.
With 95 points, New York is likely headed to the playoffs although it may not be as one of the top three seeds from the Metropolitan Division. The Isles are tied with Pittsburgh for second place in the division and Washington is just one point back in fourth. The Capitals hold the first of two wild card spots in the East.
Like the Isles and Pens, Washington has five games remaining in the regular season and the Caps visit Montreal on Thursday. Pittsburgh is idle after losing in regulation to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
New York used Cal Clutterbuck's short-handed goal early in the second period on Sunday to defeat the Red Wings on Sunday.
The contest got off to a wild start and the clubs were tied 3-3 after 20 minutes. Frans Nielsen gave the Isles the lead for good with a power-play tally just 16 seconds into the middle period and Clutterbuck delivered the eventual game-winner at the 3:57 mark.
Pavel Datsyuk cut the deficit to 5-4 midway through the second, but that would be the final score for either club.
New York went 3-of-4 with the man advantage and also received power-play goals from Brock Nelson and Kyle Okposo.
"It was good to see we got rewarded," Isles captain John Tavares said of the team's power-play success "We had chances in the past few games and tonight we buried them."
Ryan Strome also scored for the Islanders, Tavares broke out of a slump by notching three assists and Jaroslav Halak overcame a brutal start in the win. The All-Star goaltender let up a pair of goals in the first two minutes, but just two more the rest of the way while registering 21 saves.
Tavares came in having posted just two points over his previous eight games.
The Isles will have to cool off Columbus to earn their first winning streak in several weeks. New York has won three of the last four meetings in this series and halted a three-game slide at Nationwide Arena with a 5-2 win on Jan. 10.
Columbus began a three-game homestand on Tuesday with an overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils. Jack Johnson's strike 56 seconds into the extra session lifted the Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win and help the club match its longest win streak of the season.
The Jackets also won seven straight from Dec. 1-16. The only time the club won eight in a row was from Jan. 6-Feb. 3 of last season.
New Jersey tied Tuesday's game at 2-2 with 2:29 to play in the third, but Johnson ended it before the OT session was a minute old.
Ryan Johansen circled around the net and sent the puck down to David Savard at the blue line. Savard faked a shot and dished the puck to Johnson, who drifted across the slot and ended the game with a backhander past Cory Schneider's glove.
"We just got mad. We didn't get down at all, giving up a short-handed goal that late in the game," said Johnson. "We just wanted to finish the game off."
Brandon Dubinsky scored on a penalty shot, Nick Foligno also lit the lamp and Sergei Bobrovsky made 24 saves for the Blue Jackets. Johansen supplied two assists in the victory.
The Blue Jackets improved to 15-20-2 as the host this season. New York is 21-13-4 as the guest.
Halak is expected to start for the Isles and is 9-4-1 with a 2.68 goals against average in 14 career outings against Columbus. Bobrovsky has superb lifetime numbers against the Islanders, going 10-3-0 with a 2.08 GAA in this matchup.