The New York Islanders continue their wild card push tonight at home against the Winnipeg Jets. They enter the night holding the East’s second wild card spot, just by a hair, by virtue of holding the regulation + OT wins tiebreaker over the Lightning, who also have 77 points.
The Leafs — who visit Tampa tonight — lurk just one point behind. That means an Isles loss drops them out of the wild card spot, which is likely how we’ll describe the next 13 games to finish out the regular season.
The Jets are 10 points out of the West’s final wild card spot with just 12 games left in their season. In their only other meeting, the Isles won 6-2 in Winnipeg on New Year’s Eve after Jaroslav Halak was left off the trip over the border.
Brock Nelson, held out of the last game with an apparent day-to-day upper body injury, slots back in for rookie Anthony Beauvillier.
No changes to the defense (Adam Pelech still in, Scott Mayfield scratched) nor in goal, where Thomas Greiss starts.
With Alan Quine back last game but Casey Cizikas still out, that Nelson/Beauvillier swap has the expected lines, according to the official site, with Nelson and Ryan Strome both centering different lines.
Cizikas, Shane Prince and Johnny Boychuk remain on the injured list.
Check lines for the Jets at Arctic Ice Hockey, which reports the team is similarly banged up. Connor Hellebuyck will start in goal.
Wild Card Scoreboard Watch
The Flyers (five points back) are in New Jersey tonight, the Panthers (six points back) are in Columbus, and the Leafs (one point back) are in Tampa (tied with the Isles on points) in a game you hope ends in regulation.
This one is on MSG+2 (twice the plus!), plus radio coverage on 880AM - WCBS, 88.7FM - WRHU.
Check Arctic Ice Hockey for Jets coverage on SB Nation.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks here by game time, which is 7 p.m. EDT.