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Rangers, Isles try to keep playoff hopes alive

by Dave Lozo

ISLANDERS (29-33-10) at RANGERS (31-32-9)

Last 10 -- N.Y. Islanders 4-4-2; N.Y. Rangers 3-5-2

Season series --
This is the fifth of six meetings this season. The Islanders have won three of the first four, including both games at Madison Square Garden. The teams meet again at the Nassau Coliseum next Tuesday.

Big story -- The Rangers are drowning in the playoff chase, and the Islanders would be more than happy to toss them an anchor in their time of need.

Team Scope:

Islanders --
Do they have a chance at making the playoffs? Ten points out of eighth place with 10 games to go makes it unlikely, but it doesn't mean the players are giving up just yet.

"It's about being professional and realizing it's not over yet," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said. "We're still in a position we can make the playoffs, and we believe we can. Is it a good chance, a 99 percent chance? No, but mathematically we're able."

The Isles were able to muster three points out of a tough three-game swing through Vancouver, Anaheim and Los Angeles before returning home (sort of) for Wednesday's game at MSG

Rangers -- In a big game with the Bruins on Sunday, the Rangers came up small, losing 2-1 and leaving themselves five points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East entering the final three weeks of the season. The deficit grew to seven points after Boston's 4-0 win in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Things are looking bleak. Even goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said, "It's been an effort the past few weeks to try to stay positive." But there's still time, and captain Chris Drury isn't ready to roll over.

"No one in here is gonna quit," he said. "No one in here is gonna mope around. We've just gotta do everything we can to win one game. That's it."

Who's hot --
Islanders rookie John Tavares appears to have hurdled the rookie wall and is off and running again. He has 3 goals and 4 assists in his last three games, including a 5-point effort against the Canucks on March 16.

There's not much heat coming off the Blueshirts lately. Drury has 5 assists in 5 games, but none in the last two.

Injury report --
Islanders injuries include goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee), centers Doug Weight (shoulder) and Rob Schremp (knee) and defensemen Radek Martinek (leg) and Andrew MacDonald (foot). None will play against the Rangers, and all may miss the rest of the season. The Rangers could be without sparkplug Ryan Callahan, who left Sunday's game in Boston with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack --
The Islanders have been shut out five times this season and are 1-27-4 when trailing after two periods. … The Rangers had allowed a power-play goal in five straight games before killing all three of Boston's power plays Sunday.

Puck drop --
If the Rangers finish the season by going 10-0-0, they will wind up with 91 points. Only twice since the lockout has 91 points been enough to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs. No team has reached the postseason during that time with less than 91 points.

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