Clinched: The Islanders clinched a playoff spot Thursday night, after the Boston Bruins lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers. The Islanders will play one of four teams (Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning or Montreal Canadiens) in the opening round.
John Tavares on clinching:
I sent [former Islander] Brad Boyes a text saying thanks, it was a big game-winner for us. It’s always a little bit of a relief when you officially know it’s done, especially the way things happened the past couple of nights. We’ve worked hard, I think we’ve earned it. We want to go do some damage. We want to finish strong.
Jack Capuano on clinching:
It’s rewarding. Guys should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. It’s a great year for the guys, I give them a lot of credit. Everybody should be pleased with the effort they’ve put in since day one.
Halak vs. Fleury:
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal tonight for the Islanders. Halak is 2-1-0 against the Penguins this season, with a 2.01 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start tonight for the Penguins. Fleury is 1-1-1 in three games vs. the Isles this season.
Clutterbuck In, McDonald Out:
Cal Clutterbuck returns to the lineup after a one-game absence with an undisclosed injury. Colin McDonald comes out of the Islanders’ lineup.
Martin, Nielsen Still Out:
Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen will each miss their second straight game with undisclosed injuries. PROJECTED LINES:
|NIKOLAY KULEMIN ||JOHN TAVARES ||RYAN STROME |
|MICHAEL GRABNER ||JOSH BAILEY ||KYLE OKPOSO |
|ANDERS LEE ||BROCK NELSON ||TYLER KENNEDY |
|ERIC BOULTON ||CASEY CIZIKAS ||CAL CLUTTERBUCK | Where/When:
The Islanders are in Pittsburgh tonight and play gets underway at 7 p.m. Tonight's game is on MSG+.Home Ice:
The Islanders can still take home ice in the opening round with two wins and a Washington Capitals loss. The Islanders finish the season Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, while the Capitals host the New York Rangers Saturday afternoon. Kennedy back in Pittsburgh:
Tyler Kennedy will face his former team for the first time with the Islanders. Kennedy played the first six season of his NHL career with the Pens before being traded to San Jose in 2013.Tavares vs. Crosby:
John Tavares and Sidney Crosby are tied with Jamie Benn for the NHL scoring lead. All three players have 83 points, which is a career high for Tavares. Tavares on scoring race:
Both our minds couldn’t be further away definitely with what’s on the line and how important the points are. This is obviously a big game for them and for us, we’re fighting for home ice. I just want to go out there and play my game, do what I’ve been doing all year, be reliable in all three zones and create opportunities. Penguins Playoffs:
The Penguins have yet to clinch a playoff berth and currently sit in the second wild card position, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins with a game in hand. The Penguins can clinch with a win in any fashion tonight.
Kyle Okposo on the Penguins:
They are going to come out hard tonight and we know that. We have to be ready and match their intensity. We want to get two points. We know they are going to be a desperate hockey club, but we want to be playing our best hockey going into next week.