New York Islanders center John Tavares is week to week with a lower-body injury sustained in a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday.
The New York captain was battling for control of the puck behind the Devils net late in the third period and tried to avoid New Jersey defenseman Steven Santini but fell to the ice holding the back of his left leg. He needed two teammates to help him get to the locker room.
The Islanders (36-29-12) are five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference; New York plays at the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV). The Islanders have five games remaining in the regular season, which ends April 9.
Tavares leads New York with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 77 games. If the Islanders don't make the playoffs, his season may be over.
"It's a big blow," coach Doug Weight said Friday. "Anytime you see your best player go down, and obviously he was in some distress … but these guys have been around. Injuries happen. It's not fun, but it gives somebody a chance, right? It's going to give some more minutes to throw around, some big challenges at a good time of the year."
New York recalled forward Connor Jones from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Saturday. The 26-year-old could make his NHL debut on Sunday.
Video: NJD@NYI: Tavares exits with lower-body injury in 3rd