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Islanders can determine first-round opponent

Win puts them third in Metropolitan; loss to Flyers drops them to first wild card in East

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

FLYERS (40-27-14) at ISLANDERS (45-26-10)

TV: 7 p.m. ET; TCN-PH, MSG+, NBCSN, SN

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders will play without forwards John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen in their regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Flyers at Barclays Center on Sunday.

Should the Islanders defeat the Flyers, they would finish third in the Metropolitan Division and play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begins later this week. A loss of any kind means the Islanders would get the first wild card from the Eastern Conference and a first-round series with the Florida Panthers.

Capuano has repeatedly said he doesn't have a preference in regards to a playoff opponent. His main objective is to get as many players as healthy as possible before the postseason begins.

"There's a chance I may lay back on a few guys with their minutes," said Capuano, who will also scratch defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "You have to make sure you do the right things for your guys. But at the same time, these guys want to play hard. They don't want to sit on the bench. They're dressed, they want to play, they want to win. But as a coach, sometimes there's tough decisions to make and you have to make those decisions."

Philadelphia clinched a playoff berth Saturday and is locked into the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers will face the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

The game Sunday is a makeup after it was originally postponed by a blizzard in New York on Jan. 23. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol admitted he's relieved the outcome Sunday won't determine Philadelphia's playoff fate.

"I thought it would come down to the final game, to be honest with you," Hakstol said. "It was nice that we were able to get it done [Saturday] night. But for our players, I'm happy for them, and for our fans. I'm really happy to have the opportunity to get into the playoffs.

"Final regular-season game tonight, so business-like approach and then we'll get moving forward and focused on next week."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Nick Cousins - Sam Gagner

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere

Andrew MacDonald - Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth

Ray Emery

Injured: Michael Del Zotto (wrist)

Scratched: Scott Laughton, R.J. Umberger, Jordan Weal, Evgeny Medvedev, Steve Mason, Alex Lyon


Shane Prince - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey

Matt Martin - Ryan Strome - Cal Clutterbuck

Ross Johnston - Casey Cizikas - Steve Bernier

Eric Boulton - Alan Quine - Bracken Kearns

Nick Leddy - Marek Zidlicky

Calvin de Haan - Ryan Pulock

Adam Pelech - Scott Mayfield

Thomas Greiss

Christopher Gibson

Injured: Anders Lee (broken fibula), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Thomas Hickey (undisclosed), Travis Hamonic (lower body), Brian Strait (upper body), Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body)

Scratched: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, Nikolay Kulemin, Johnny Boychuk

Status report: Neuvirth starts for Philadelphia after Mason played the past 12 games to help the Flyers qualify for the postseason. … Greiss will start the game but likely won't finish it. Capuano said Leddy and Cizikas are questionable. The Islanders recalled Johnston from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

Who's hot: Simmonds scored twice in Philadelphia's 3-1 win against the Penguins on Saturday and has six goals in the past five games. Gostisbehere has three points in the past four games. … Mayfield and Quine scored their first NHL goals in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

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