BUFFALO - Center John Tavares will be out for the remainder of the regular season for the New York Islanders, who trail the Ottawa Senators by seven points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
The Islanders announced Saturday that Tavares is week to week with a lower-body injury he sustained against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, but coach Doug Weight said Sunday he wouldn't be available for each of New York's final five games.
"You probably won't see him until the end of the year, that's for sure," Weight said Sunday prior to the Islanders game against the Buffalo Sabres (3 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV). "We'll continue to monitor and update you guys, but yeah, he won't be playing in the regular season for sure."
Tavares leads the Islanders with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 77 games.
Video: NJD@NYI: Tavares exits with lower-body injury in 3rd
"[We'll miss] everything about him," Weight said. "He's out there 21 minutes a game; his puck possession and skill and strength, his will, his power play, his penalty kill, he's in every situation, takes big faceoffs, he scores; he's our best player, it's no secret, but we've got to move on and we've got to win a game today. I'm comfortable with the lineup we have and guys are going to give it their all and play with confidence."
The Islanders are also dealing with injuries to defenseman Travis Hamonic (upper body), and forwards Nikolay Kulemin (upper body), Casey Cizikas (upper body) and Ryan Strome (upper body). New York recalled Connor Jones from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Saturday to take Tavares' spot in the lineup.
"With misfortune brings opportunity so we've got a lot of guys that we've went with and we need everybody to pull on that rope, as they say, and the key is the depth and that doesn't mean you're doing more, you're doing more smartly," Weight said. "I think that's why you see good teams can handle that for a while, for a distance, because they'll play harder, they play smarter. When you're playing against a team that has more skill, you've got to put the percentages and put the puck in and play harder. Regardless of our lineup without John, we've got to have a lot of guys step up."