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Sabres wrap up season vs. playoff-bound Islanders

Friday, 04.26.2013 / 2:22 AM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

ISLANDERS (24-17-6) at SABRES (20-21-6)

TV: MSG PLUS 2; MSG-B

Last 10: New York 6-1-3; Buffalo 6-4-0

Season series: It's the last of three meetings; the road team won the first two.

Big story: The New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres finish their regular seasons at First Niagara Center -- but for the first time since 2007, the Islanders' season will last a little longer. They clinched a playoff berth earlier this week, and a victory could move them as high as sixth in the Eastern Conference, depending on what the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers do.

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York had visions of climbing as high as fifth in the East, but that was before a flat effort Thursday night produced a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and dropped the Islanders from sixth to eighth. John Tavares had the lone goal and backup goaltender Kevin Poulin looked sharp, but the Islanders looked a step slow as they lost in regulation for the first time in 12 games this month.

New York is 0-1-1 this week after an 8-0-2 run carried the Islanders into the playoffs.

"We're not going to blow it up into a big story," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "It's frustrating. Look at our last 15 or 20 games or so, I think we've done a lot of really good things. So heading into the playoffs, we've got one more big game."

Sabres: Buffalo will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, but the Sabres haven't stopped playing hard. They've had two nights off since a 4-2 road victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins and have accounted for two of the Eastern Conference leaders' three losses during a 22-3-0 run.

"Obviously we wanted to be in the playoffs, but that's not going to happen. But guys want to make sure they finish strong," coach Ron Rolston said.

Who's hot: Tavares has four goals and five points in New York's past three games. Starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov leads the NHL with 14 road victories. … Thomas Vanek had two of Buffalo's four goals in Pittsburgh to reach the 20-goal mark. He has four goals in the Sabres' past four games.

Injury report: The Islanders report no injuries, though coach Jack Capuano will have to decide if he wants to sit any of his regulars in the second half of a back-to-back. … Buffalo is without defensemen Patrick Kaleta (hand), Tyler Myers (leg) and Alexander Sulzer (knee surgery), as well as forward Ville Leino (upper body).

2012-2013 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 26 '13NYI 1 at BUF 2 - SOT. Vanek
Feb 23 '13NYI 4 at BUF 0M. Streit
Feb 09 '13BUF 3 at NYI 2A. Sulzer
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
J. Tavares48281947-21895
M. Moulson47152944-3480
B. Boyes48102535-61611
F. Nielsen4862329-31221
M. Streit4862127-142231
K. Okposo4842024-23800
M. Grabner4516521+41223
J. Bailey3811819+7601
C. McDonald4571017-13210
C. Cizikas456915+01401
L. Visnovsky3531114+122010
K. Aucoin416612-1411
A. MacDonald483912-22011
M. Martin484711-26311
T. Hamonic483710-82811
D. Ullstrom20235-2601
M. Reasoner31055-3400
T. Hickey39134+9801
B. Strait19044+41000
R. Martinek13303-2401
A. Lee2112-3000
M. Carkner22022-24600
J. Joensuu7022+2600
J. Finley16011-52000
E. Boulton15000-43600
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
E. Nabokov4123-11-710311392.50.910
K. Poulin51-3-0131223.02.893
R. DiPietro30-3-012834.09.855
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
T. Vanek38202141-12092
C. Hodgson48151934-42031
T. Ennis47102131-141620
J. Pominville37101525+1811
S. Ott4891524+39323
C. Ehrhoff4751722+63412
D. Stafford4661218-162100
M. Foligno4751318-44110
J. Hecht475914+61801
A. Sekera3721012-2400
B. Flynn266511+6001
N. Gerbe425510-31400
K. Porter31459-11000
T. Myers39358-83212
J. Leopold24268-61400
M. Weber42167+37000
V. Leino8246+0610
M. Grigorenko25145-1000
M. Pysyk19145-7010
A. Sulzer17314+31001
A. Pardy17044+41400
R. Regehr29022-42100
P. Kaleta34101-46700
T. Brennan10101-1610
L. Adam4101+1200
J. Scott34000-16900
C. McCormick8000-21000
C. Ruhwedel7000+0000
M. Ellis6000+0000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Miller4017-17-510812702.81.915
J. Enroth124-4-1273322.60.919