In the final game of the regular season, the New York Islanders travel up to Boston to take on the Bruins at TD Garden on Monday night. Despite both teams already having clinched a spot in the postseason, the final meeting of the regular season between the two East-Division foes will be meaningful as it could impact which team clinches third place versus fourth.
The Islanders currently sit in fourth place (70 points), but are just one point back of the Boston Bruins (71 points) for third place in the East Division. With a win over Boston on Monday and a subsequent Boston loss to Washington the following night, the Islanders could overtake third place. If the Islanders end up finishing in fourth place, they will take on Pittsburgh who clinched the top spot in the division following its 1-0 victory over Buffalo on Saturday afternoon.
"I would like to finish as high as you can," Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "If you can get a home ice round somewhere, this division is very capable of a four-seed beating a one-seed or a three-seed beating a two-seed. You just don't know. You want to play well and get as high as you can. We sort of messed that up [in our winless skid], but you just don't know. You just want to feel good, you want to be healthy and be playing a decent game before going into the playoffs. That's where I'd like to finish off against Boston."
The Islanders look to continue to build momentum and end the regular season on a high note after a much-needed 5-1 win against New Jersey on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, which snapped a three-game winless skid (0-2-1).
The win featured scoring from up and down the lineup and solid goaltending. The Islanders offense in particular received a boost as it received scoring from three of its top goal scorers. Brock Nelson scored twice, including once on the power play, while Jordan Eberle, Kyle Palmieri and Mathew Barzal also found the back of the net. Ilya Sorokin returned in goal and made 23 saves in the win.
Boston dropped a 5-4 loss in regulation to the New York Rangers on Saturday night. The Bruins' 'Perfection Line' all got on the board as David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand (power play) and Patrice Bergeron all scored and Nick Ritchie also got on the scoresheet. Tuukka Rask made 18 saves on 23 shots in the loss.
• With the win, the Islanders improved their home season record to 21-4-3 and earned points in 24 of 28 games at Nassau Coliseum. It marked their best home record in the Post-Cup era through 28 games. Only Pittsburgh has recorded more wins on home ice this season across the NHL with 22.
• Nelson wired in his team-leading 17th and 18th goals of the season, including his seventh strike on the power play, which also ranks the best among the team.
• Eberle snapped a seven-game goalless stretch as he put in his 16th goal of the season.
• Barzal tallied his 16th goal of the season, which is tied with Eberle for the second-most among the squad. The 23-year-old center leads the Islanders in scoring with 43 points (16G, 27A) through 54 games.
• Palmieri scored his 10th goal of the season and second goal since becoming a member of the Islanders. It was fitting that Palmieri scored against his former team who dealt him to the Island on April 7.
• With an assist, Anthony Beauvillier extended his point streak to six games with seven points (5G, 2A) in that span.
• Nick Leddy also dished out an assist and leads the Islanders this season with 28 helpers.
• Leo Komarov posted two assists on the night to earn the Second Star of the Game honors. The veteran winger now has eight points (1G, 7A) through 32 games.
• Sorokin made his 21st start of the season and improved his record to 13-6-2. The Russian rookie has a 2.16 GAA and a .918 SV%. Sorokin has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his last nine games.
• Eberle, Komarov and Andy Greene rejoined the lineup in place of Cal Clutterbuck, Ross Johnston and Braydon Coburn.
• The Islanders power play went 1-for-3 and ranks 22nd overall in the NHL at 18.2%.
• With a 2-for-2 execution on the penalty kill against New Jersey, the Islanders have killed 36 of the last 38 opponent power plays. At home, they've killed 48 of 52 at home this season for a kill rating of 92.3% which ranks second all-time to Boston's 92.4% that was accomplished in 1998-99.
• The Islanders' lead the NHL in goals against per game (GA/GP) with an average of 2.22.
• Ritchie scored his 15th goal of the season and set a new career high. The forward now has 26 points (15G, 11A) through 54 games.
• Pastrnak's goal marked his 20th of the season and his 200th-career goal. In doing so, the 24-year-old Czech winger became the third active player to score 200-regular season goals before the age of 25, joining some heady company in Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The goal extended Pastrnak's point streak to three games where he has totaled four points (1G, 3A) during that span.
• Marchand recorded his team-high 28th goal of this year's campaign and his fourth strike on the power play. The winger has points in six of his last seven games with 10 points (3G, 7A) throughout that stretch. Marchand leads the Bruins across the boards in goals, assists (39) and points (67). He ranks third in the NHL with 67 points behind Edmonton's Connor McDavid (100) and Leon Draisaitl (79).
• Bergeron tallied his 23rd goal of the season and extended his goal streak to five games. The Bruins captain is also riding a six-game point streak with (5G, 2A) throughout that stretch.
• Rask made his 23rd start of the season while his record dropped to 14-5-2. The veteran Finn has a 2.29 GAA and a.914 SV%.
• Charlie Coyle missed Saturday's game due to an upper-body injury that the forward sustained against the Rangers in the previous game on Thursday night.
• Ondrej Kase returned to practice for Boston on Friday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Jan. 16. Kase did not dress against the Rangers on Saturday, but Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said there's a chance the forward will get in the lineup before playoffs begin.
• On special teams against the Rangers, Boston's power play went 1-for-3 while their penalty kill went 1-for-1. Across the league, the Bruins' power play is 10th best (21.9%) while their PK ranks second (86.4%) behind Washington.
• Like the Islanders, Boston prides itself on its stingy defense and ranks fourth in the NHL in GA/GP with 2.41. The Bruins also relinquish the second-fewest - behind Colorado - shots per game across the league at 27.1.
• In the faceoff circle, Boston boasts the top FOW% of all 31 NHL teams at 55.3%. Boston's captain Patrice Bergeron leads all NHL skaters in that same realm with a 61.9% FOW%. Bergeron has taken the third-most faceoffs in the NHL at 1,130 behind St. Louis center Ryan O'Reilly (1,152) and Pittsburgh's Crosby (1, 262).