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Islanders Inch Closer to Playoff Berth, Shutdown Sabres at Coliseum

Kyle Okposo (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Kyle Okposo (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Back in February, asking if the Islanders were going to make the playoffs seemed like a ridiculous question.  But with just three games remaining in the season, the Islanders have not yet clinched a spot thanks in large part to the past month of spotty play.

However, the panacea for New York was the panacea for basically the entire NHL this season – a home date with the hapless Buffalo Sabres who entered the game with a league worst 52 points and left the game with the same 52 points.

The Islanders got off on the right foot when Kyle Okposo opened the Islanders account with just under 7 minutes to go in the first period.

After sustained pressure on rookie goalie Andrey Makarov’s net, Okposo finally solved the young keeper on the power play.  Okposo took a pass from John Tavares and after a slight hesitation, fired a wrister from the high slot to give New York all the scoring it would need.

After a scoreless second, the Islanders finally were the scorers of a fluke goal after giving up what has seemed to be a hundred fluke goals in the past month.

Off a broken play, Brock Nelson found a puck at the blue line, waltzed in, and snapped a low wrist shot that sneaked through the five hole of Makarov and the Isles had some breathing room.

A multiple goal lead in the third had to have Islanders fans on edge, but there would be no drama today.

The Islanders capped the scoring with a long shot from Travis Hamonic that Nikolay Kulemin got a stick on, and for the second straight time at the Nassau Coliseum, fans were chanting “Yes Yes Yes!” at the end of the game instead of shaking their heads in disbelief.

The Isles and their fans will be scoreboard watching Sunday as the possibility of a playoff berth and improved positioning are all in play.

With the division gone to the Rangers, second place is still important and very much up for grabs.

The Penguins will be in action against the Flyers on Sunday a team that has dominated Pittsburgh all year.

Isles fans will be hoping for a regulation loss and no points for the Pens in that game.

Meanwhile, the Capitals are in action against Detroit and Isles fans will be rooting for Detroit to hold Washington behind New York in third place.

The game that means the most however is Ottawa vs. Toronto.  If Ottawa fails to gain a point from the game, New York clinches at least a wild card position.


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