SABRES (22-48-8) at ISLANDERS (45-27-6)
TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, MSG+
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders will be looking for a bounce-back win when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
A win combined with a Washington Capitals regulation victory against the Ottawa Senators would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Islanders for the second time in three seasons. New York did not qualify last season after it lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round in 2013.
"The way [the fans have] supported us this year, the way they have filled up the Coliseum all year, it's been really special for them and for us, so it'd be great if we could [clinch a playoff berth] for them tonight," forward Anders Lee said.
Following a 4-3 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, the Islanders have lost eight of 10 games (2-6-2).
"These are the games you look forward to, the ones that are at the end of the year leading into the postseason so we can wrap these up and continue to get our game to where it needs to be getting into the playoffs," Lee said.
The Sabres lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Friday, and coach Jack Capuano warned against the Islanders taking them lightly.
"This is a good team," Capuano said. "They had Chicago 3-2 with two minutes to go last night in the game, so we have to be on our toes and ready to play."
Buffalo defeated the Islanders earlier this season after trailing early.
"There's no easy games in this league," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. "We just have to make sure we are ready to play tonight. … No matter who you play, they can beat you on any night and they proved it when we played them in Buffalo. We were up 3-0, and they came back and beat us in a shootout."
Sabres goalie Andrey Makarov will make his NHL debut. Makarov was 15-17-3 with a .902 save percentage and a 2.98 goals-against average with Rochester of the American Hockey League.
"I thought he was really good [in the AHL]. … He got better," Buffalo coach Ted Nolan said. "That's what the American Hockey League is all about as far as the development of the young guys particularly in goal."
Here are the projected lineups:
Nikolay Kulemin - John Tavares - Ryan Strome
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck
Eric Boulton - Casey Cizikas - Matt Martin
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Brian Strait - Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky
Scratched: Michael Grabner, Tyler Kennedy, Colin McDonald, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan
Injured: Mikhail Grabovski (concussion)
Johan Larsson - Tyler Ennis - Brian Gionta
Mikhail Grigorenko - Nicolas Deslauriers - Marcus Foligno
Cody Hodgson - Zac Dalpe - Zac Dalpe
Matt Ellis - Tim Schaller - Patrick Kaleta
Andre Benoit - Zach Bogosian
Nikita Zadorov - Andrej Meszaros
Tyson Strachan - Rasmus Ristolainen
Scratched: Tim Schaller
Injured: Cody McCormick (blood clots), Josh Gorges (lower body), Evander Kane (shoulder), Jerry D'Amigo (upper body), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Mike Weber (undisclosed), Matt Hackett (undisclosed), Chad Johnson (lower body), Matt Moulson (illness)
Status report: Capuano said the Islanders will have no lineup changes from the game Thursday.
Who's hot: Gionta has a goal and four assists in five games and four goals in six. … Tavares has a goal and three assists in four games. … Strome has two goals in two games and four points in four.