NHL

Blue Jackets-Islanders Preview

Coach Jack Capuano is calling his team's propensity to win close games "Islanders Hockey" thanks to New York's string of one-goal wins against lowly opponents.

His club can make it four straight overall when it faces another such foe Saturday night and 11 in a row against the Metropolitan Division when it hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets.

New York (36-18-1) has posted three straight 3-2 victories over Buffalo, Edmonton and Toronto. The first-place Islanders improved to 22-4-1 in one-goal games and prompted Capuano to compare this team to the franchise's dynasty of winning four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83.

"Similar to what they had here in the '80s," Capuano said when asked to describe what he termed "Islanders Hockey." "We've got some skill, we've got some grit. Obviously, they had good goaltending here.

"Each team has got a different identity, each team has got a certain way they need to play. I think our guys realize how we are successful."

These wins have come even though John Tavares, who has a team-high 24 goals, hasn't scored in any of them. Anders Lee has three goals and an assist in this stretch, including a two-goal effort in Thursday's win over the Maple Leafs.

Lee is tied for second among NHL rookies with 18 goals, with 11 in 22 home games.

Before the Islanders can turn their attention to Monday's matchup with the arch-rival Rangers, they face one more of the NHL's worst clubs in Columbus. New York won 5-2 on the road Jan. 10 in the lone meeting so far with five Islanders scoring.

The Blue Jackets (24-26-3) start a five-game trip against East teams with some momentum after winning 4-3 in overtime at home over Philadelphia on Friday. Four of the opponents are from the Metropolitan.

"They're divisional opponents. They're teams that we have to find a way to catch," center Brandon Dubinsky said. "It seems like they're all a long way out, but they're all four-point games. We have to find a way."

Finding a way Saturday will be difficult since New York is 17-2-0 in division games, including 10-0-0 at home. The Islanders' last loss to a Metropolitan foe was a 5-2 defeat at Washington on Nov. 28.

Columbus rallied Friday from two goals down in the third period. Artem Anisimov ended a 21-game drought without a goal by tallying in overtime.

"I feel like it's a weight off my shoulders," he said. "Really, you know, I did not score for lots of games."

The Blue Jackets' Scott Hartnell has seven points in a five-game run while fellow winger Nick Foligno has six in a four-game streak.

New York will likely start Jaroslav Halak, who has won four straight and is tied for second in the NHL with a career-high 30 victories - two shy of the club record.

Curtis McElhinney made 22 saves Friday for Columbus. If he doesn't start, winless Anton Forsberg will receive his fourth career one.

The Islanders remain without the injured Kyle Okposo, whose bobblehead night is Saturday.

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