BUFFALO -- The New York Islanders have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but find themselves in eighth place heading into their final game of the regular season Friday night. When the Islanders take on the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center, they'll have an opportunity to improve that position.
At 54 points, they're in a three-way tie with the sixth-place Ottawa Senators and the seventh-place New York Rangers. Ottawa has two games remaining while the Rangers have one. Both the Senators and Rangers are idle on Friday.
The Islanders are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. It was New York's first regulation loss in 12 games. They were on an 8-0-3 run and are 11-2-3 in their past 16 games, but 0-1-1 in their past two.
"I just want to get back -- and I know the guys want to get back -- to playing the way that we want to play. Win or lose, we just have to make sure we play our style," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
As far as lineup changes go, Evgeni Nabokov will make his 41st start of the season for the Islanders on Friday. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky will sit against Buffalo while Thomas Hickey will dress.
The Sabres were eliminated from the playoffs on April 19, but they aren't preparing for their last game of the season any differently than their last few.
"Ever since we found out that we're out, I think we approached it the right way and brought the right mentality. We'll do that again [Friday]," Sabres alternate captain Thomas Vanek said.
Ryan Miller will start in what will be his 500th NHL game. Miller will become the 62nd goaltender in NHL history to reach this milestone. He will become the 20th goaltender to play at least 500 games with the one team and the 12th to play his first 500 with the same team. Miller has played his entire eight-season career with the Sabres and has one year remaining on his contract.
Matt Moulson – John Tavares – Brad Boyes
Josh Bailey – Frans Nielsen – Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner – Keith Aucoin – Colin McDonald
Eric Boulton – Casey Cizikas – Matt Martin
Andrew MacDonald – Travis Hamonic
Brian Strait – Mark Streit
Thomas Hickey – Matt Carkner
Scratched: Radek Martinek, Jesse Joensuu, Lubomir Visnovsky, Marty Reasoner, Anders Lee, David Ullstrom, Joe Finley
Thomas Vanek – Cody Hodgson – Drew Stafford
Steve Ott – Mikhail Grigorenko – Jochen Hecht
Tyler Ennis – Kevin Porter – Brian Flynn
John Scott – Marcus Foligno – Nathan Gerbe
Christian Ehrhoff – Andrej Sekera
Adam Pardy – Mark Pysyk
Mike Weber – Chad Ruhwedel
Scratched: Ville Leino (lung), Patrick Kaleta (hand), Tyler Myers (leg)
Injured Reserve: Alexander Sulzer (knee)