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Islanders loss would lock in matchup with Penguins

by Dan Rosen

The only potential certainty in the Eastern Conference on Friday involves a negative for the one playoff team in action.

The New York Islanders will lock themselves into eighth place and a first-round matchup with the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins if they lose in regulation to the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center.

The Islanders are currently in eighth after the overtime wins by both the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on Thursday. They need at least a point against the Sabres to have a chance to avoid the Penguins in the first round.

Pittsburgh has won its last four games against the Islanders by a combined 16-5 score. The Islanders beat the Penguins, 4-1, on Jan. 29.

The Islanders will have a chance to finish as high as sixth if they beat the Sabres or at least earn one point.

However, the Senators, who are already in sixth place, have a game-in-hand over both the Islanders and Rangers because in addition to hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, they play at the Boston Bruins on Sunday to make up the game that was postponed because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Senators can finish as high as fifth, but they'd have to win their last two games and the Toronto Maple Leafs would have to lose in regulation to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

The Rangers will clinch at least the No. 7 seed with a win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. They also still have a chance at the No. 6 seed and a first-round series against the Washington Capitals.


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