ISLANDERS (36-29-12) at SABRES (32-33-12)
3 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV
Islanders team scope
The New York Islanders are seven points behind the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with five games left to play, and will be without center John Tavares on Sunday. Tavares sustained a lower-body injury against the New Jersey Devils on Friday and will be out week to week. "It's a big blow anytime you see your best player go down," coach Doug Weight said Friday. "These guys have been around. Injuries happen. It's not fun, but it gives somebody a chance." Tavares, the Islanders captain, leads New York in scoring with 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists). The Islanders recalled forward Connor Jones from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Saturday to take Tavares' place on the roster, and Jones could make his NHL debut. Jones has 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 56 games with Bridgeport this season.
Sabres team scope
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen will return to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension for a hit against Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel on March 21. "I got good rest, I worked out well, a good couple of practices, and I'm ready to go," Ristolainen said Saturday. "It felt like a month." Buffalo will again be without right wing Kyle Okposo because of an illness; he was a late scratch for a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. "The status of Kyle is he's sick and ill right now," coach Dan Bylsma said, "and hasn't really recovered from it at this point in time, so he's just under the weather." With Okposo out, forward C.J. Smith is expected to make his NHL debut. Smith was signed out of UMass Lowell on Thursday after completing his junior season, when he had 51 points (23 goals, 28 assists) in 41 games. "I like to play just a tenacious game, so if whatever happens, I'm just going to go out there, compete, and play hard," Smith said.
Islanders projected lineup
Anders Lee -- Brock Nelson -- Josh Bailey
Andrew Ladd -- Alan Quine -- Jason Chimera
Shane Prince -- Anthony Beauvillier -- Joshua Ho-Sang
Stephen Gionta -- Connor Jones -- Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy -- Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan -- Dennis Seidenberg
Thomas Hickey -- Adam Pelech
Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube, Scott Mayfield
Injured: John Tavares (lower body), Travis Hamonic (upper body), Ryan Strome (upper body), Nikolay Kulemin (upper body), Casey Cizikas (upper body)
Sabres projected lineup
Evander Kane -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno -- Jack Eichel -- Sam Reinhart
C.J. Smith -- Evan Rodrigues -- Brian Gionta
William Carrier -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Matt Moulson
Jake McCabe -- Rasmus Ristolainen
Dmitry Kulikov -- Zach Bogosian
Josh Gorges -- Justin Falk
Scratched: Nicolas Deslauriers
Injuries: Kyle Okposo (illness), Taylor Fedun (upper body), Cody Franson (undisclosed), Johan Larsson (wrist)
The Islanders did not practice Saturday. … Franson skated in practice Saturday and is hoping to return Monday against the Maple Leafs.
Eichel has five points (two goals, three assists) in his past three games and 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in his past 16 games. … O'Reilly has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his past 15 games.