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Islanders, without Lee, pursuing third in Metro

New York will avoid wild card with wins against Sabres, then Flyers

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

SABRES (34-36-11) at ISLANDERS (45-26-9)
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET; MSG-B, MSG, BELL TV, NHL.TV
-- The New York Islanders will have a patchwork lineup against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at Barclays Center.

Forward Anders Lee is out indefinitely after a slap shot from teammate Johnny Boychuk broke his left fibula during the 4-1 win at the New York Rangers on Thursday. Forwards Matt Martin (upper body) and Cal Clutterbuck (undisclosed) are also not expected to play, and right wing Kyle Okposo could miss the game because his wife is expecting their second child at any moment. 

Forwards Alan Quine and Bracken Kearns were recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on Saturday morning. 
"It's tough," coach Jack Capuano said. "Guys want to get back in, they don't want to keep sitting out until the playoffs start, but we have to do what's best for our team. That's what really comes first, is our hockey club."
Lee is another important player the Islanders have seen hit by the injury bug in recent weeks. Others include goalie Jaroslav Halak (lower body), defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower body) and forward Mikhail Grabovski (upper body).

"Obviously those guys, all of them, are big parts of the team," captain John Tavares said. "We really count on them, but I think as a team and individually whoever's in the locker room preparing to play whatever night it may be, has to understand the level we play at and obviously it's an opportunity for someone or an expanded role for someone that maybe has been in a certain position all year long, and you've got look at it as a chance to grasp and to run with it. We have certain expectations of our team from top to bottom, that's why depth is so important in this League. It shows each and every year, and we have that.
"Even though we've lost some key guys over the last couple of weeks, whether for a game or two, or someone like Travis who's missed the last few games, we know what our job is to go out there and the results that we need."
The Islanders trail the New York Rangers, who defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Saturday, by two points for third place in the Metropolitan Division with one game in hand.  
The third-place finisher faces the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round; the other team gets the first wild card and faces the Florida Panthers.
"You've got to beat everybody," Islanders forward Brock Nelson said. "Whoever you get matched up against, it's going to be a matchup. Teams get in for a reason. No easy matchup."
Buffalo did not have a morning skate following its 4-1 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets at First Niagara Center on Friday. This is the Sabres' final game of the season.
Here are the projected lineups:
Zemgus Girgensons - Ryan O'Reilly - Cole Schneider
Marcus Foligno - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta
Nicolas Deslauriers - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Matt Moulson - David Legwand - Evan Rodrigues
Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe - Casey Nelson
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mark Pysyk
Chad Johnson
Jason Kasdorf
Injured: Robin Lehner (ankle), Zach Bogosian (lower body), Evander Kane (upper body), Tyler Ennis (concussion), Cody McCormick (illness)
Scratched: Hudson Fasching, Cal O'Reilly, Linus Ullmark, Nathan Lieuwen
Frans Nielsen - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Shane Prince - Ryan Strome - Josh Bailey
Nikolay Kulemin - Brock Nelson - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Alan Quine - Bracken Kearns 
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan - Ryan Pulock
Adam Pelech - Scott Mayfield
Christopher Gibson
Thomas Greiss
Injured: Anders Lee (broken fibula), Mikhail Grabovski (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Matt Martin (upper body), Thomas Hickey (undisclosed), Travis Hamonic (lower body), Brian Strait (upper body), Jaroslav Halak (lower body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body)
Scratched: Marek Zidlicky
Status report: Bogosian sustained his injury on Friday. … Pelech was recalled from Bridgeport on Saturday will play his first game with the Islanders since Jan 14. Pelech had surgery after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of the blood vessels running from the upper body to the arms. Hickey skated Saturday morning. Hamonic skated in full gear, and Capuano said he's "coming along quite well." His status for the first round of the playoffs remains uncertain. Halak has yet to face shots in practice and is "still come time away," according to Capuano. 
Who's hot: Eichel has one goal and four assists during a four-game point streak. Moulson has two goals and one assist in his past five games. … Tavares (three goals, five assists) and Okposo (one goal, five assists) have three-game point streaks.

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