Islanders take aim at cooling off Predators

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders stemmed a crisis and steadied their Eastern Conference playoff positioning with a narrow win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

The Islanders' reward? A date with one of the hottest teams in the NHL.

The Islanders will look to win their second straight game Monday night when they host the red-hot Nashville Predators at Barclays Center.

The Islanders stopped a two-game losing streak when they came back from two one-goal deficits to edge the visiting Blue Jackets 4-3.

The host Predators won their second straight -- and for the eighth time in 10 games -- on Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers.

The Islanders (26-22-5) escaped a tie for last place in the Metropolitan Division with the Rangers and moved into a deadlock for the final wild-card spot in the East with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Suffice to say, the Islanders felt a little better than they did after being outscored 9-1 in losses to the Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the week.

"A huge win, a huge two points," Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak told reporters after he had 46 saves. "We just found a way to get the two points. That's really a huge booster for our team after those two losses."

Another win Monday and the Islanders will feel even better about themselves. Both the Flyers and Blue Jackets, the latter of whom occupies the top wild-card spot, are idle Monday, so New York can move into the first wild card with a victory.

The Predators (31-12-7), meanwhile, provided themselves a boost in the last two games, outscoring the Rangers and Los Angeles Kings 10-2.

"I thought for 120 minutes it was pretty good, pretty consistent," Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters after Saturday's game. "The guys were playing hard. We rolled the lines and rolled the D and had good goaltending."

The Predators' 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games is tied with the Boston Bruins for the best mark during that span.

Nashville, which has outscored the opposition 31-17 in that 10-game stretch, will enter Monday in second place in the Central Division, two points behind the Winnipeg Jets.

Halak is likely to oppose the Predators' Pekka Rinne in a battle of top net-minders. Rinne posted the win Saturday with 20 saves against the Rangers.

Halak is 14-3-4 in 22 regular-season appearances against the Predators. Rinne is 4-3-2 in nine games against the Islanders.

Neither team is likely to be 100 percent Monday.

Predators left winger Filip Forsberg was suspended three games by the NHL on Sunday for his late high hit on Rangers left winger Jimmy Vesey.

The Islanders are expected to once again be without defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who has missed the last 16 games but has resumed skating with the team.

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