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game recap

Islanders lose in OT, playoff opponent still unknown

Point in loss to Sabres means New York can still finish third in Metropolitan Division

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Gionta's game-winning goal

BUF@NYI: Gionta puts it past Gibson to win it in OT

4/9/16: Mark Pysyk feeds Brian Gionta in front, who beats Christopher Gibson glove side, giving the Sabres a 4-3 win in overtime

  • 01:00 •

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders will have to wait one more day to find out their first-round opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Brian Gionta scored his second goal of the game with 2:14 remaining in overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 win against the Islanders at Barclays Center on Saturday.

By getting a point, the Islanders (45-26-10) won't know who they'll face in the playoffs until the conclusion of their regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Should the Islanders defeat the Flyers, they will finish third in the Metropolitan Division and face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round. A loss of any kind means they'll face the Florida Panthers as the first wild card from the Eastern Conference.

"Whatever we get, it's two incredibly good teams, tough teams," Islanders center Frans Nielsen said. "I don't really know who fits better, but we'll play [Sunday] and see who we get."

The Islanders were 1-2-1 against the Penguins this season, including a 5-0 loss at Barclays Center on April 2, and 1-1-1 against Florida. They scored three goals in the final 10 minutes to defeat the Panthers 3-2 at home on March 14.

Video: BUF@NYI: Eichel sets up Moulson to tie the game

For Islanders coach Jack Capuano, the first-round opponent doesn't matter. What's most important is for players to heal before the series gets underway.

"You can't do that," Capuano said when asked if he had a preference. "We haven't had success against Pittsburgh and probably should have been 0-3 against the Panthers. We scored three goals in the third period. To me, you're going to have to play top teams. I just want to make sure that for me and this organization that we do the right thing so whoever we play next week that the guys are healthy going into the playoffs and we give them the best chance. That's all we can do."

Video: BUF@NYI: Rodrigues blasts it home for first NHL goal

Evan Rodrigues and Matt Moulson had goals for Buffalo (35-36-11) in its final game of the season. Linus Ullmark made 21 saves.

Gionta won it for the Sabres when he beat Gibson with a wrist shot from between the circles, his 12th goal of the season.

"It's nice going out on a win," Gionta said. "It builds some confidence. The last half of the year is how we want to start next year. We're a team that's grown a bit, matured. Hopefully we can carry that through."

Video: BUF@NYI: Gionta capitalizes on turnover for lead

Defenseman Scott Mayfield and forward Alan Quine scored their first NHL goals, and John Tavares tied the game with 6:26 left for New York. Christopher Gibson made 22 saves.

Mayfield opened the scoring at 2:03 of the second period. With the teams at even strength, Mayfield took a wrist shot from the right point that found its way through traffic and squeaked between Ullmark's pads before trickling over the goal line to give New York a 1-0 lead.

"It was good. It's nice to get that one," Mayfield said. "The first one's always the hardest. I wish I had been able to celebrate a little bit better, because I didn't even know it went in. It's definitely nice to get it."

Video: BUF@NYI: Tavares ties the game at 3 with a tip-in

Moulson, a former Islander, tied it for Buffalo 3:07 later when he redirected Jack Eichel's feed from the right circle past Gibson to make it 1-1. It was Moulson's eighth of the season but third in his past six games.

Rodrigues gave the Sabres the lead with his first NHL goal at 17:57 when he made a nifty move against Mayfield and beat Gibson with a wrist shot from the slot. Rodrigues played his second NHL game after making his debut Friday.

"I thought guys came out and played hard, played to win this one and did a real good job right throughout the lineup," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "You don't really think about what [the Islanders are] supposed to do. You're going out there and playing your game and you can't starting thinking, 'OK, they're playing for a playoff spot,' or something like that. We always want to win games, so every game is kind of the same. It's got to be the most important game of the season."

Video: BUF@NYI: Mayfield snipes first NHL goal to give lead

The Islanders responded while shorthanded when Quine scored 2:07 into the third period. With Mayfield in the penalty box, Islanders forward Bracken Kearns stole the puck from Ullmark behind the net and sent it front to Quine for an easy tap-in to make it 2-2.

"To score in your first game, that's something you always dream of," said Quine, who made his NHL debut after he and Kearns were recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League earlier in the day. "It's a surreal experience and I'll never forget it."

Gionta put the Sabres back in front at 5:57. With the teams at even strength, Gionta skated into the Islanders zone puck and beat Gibson with a slap shot from the right circle for his first goal in nine games.

Tavares tied it at 13:34. Calvin de Haan let go a slap shot from the point that Ullmark stopped, but Tavares collected the puck in front and tapped it over the goal line for his 33rd goal of the season.

Video: BUF@NYI: Quine tips in puck for first NHL goal

The Islanders were playing without defensemen Travis Hamonic (lower body), Thomas Hickey (undisclosed) and Brian Strait (upper body), as well as forwards Matt Martin (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Anders Lee (broken left fibula) and Mikhail Grabovski (upper body). Defenseman Marek Zidlicky and forward Nikolay Kulemin were scratched.

With the start of the playoffs a few days, it's likely the Islanders will play a similar lineup Sunday against the Flyers. At this stage, healing is probably more important than winning. But don't expect them to roll over.

"It's always fun when you have something to play for," Nielsen said. "We do have a chance to pass the Rangers in the standings. It is a big rivalry. But we got a point tonight. Second year with 100 points now, I think it shows that we've got a pretty good hockey team in here."

Video: Sabres edge Islanders, 4-3, in overtime

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