The New York Islanders have followed up one of their hottest months in years with an almost identical performance. But the Buffalo Sabres have spent the last two months undoing the margin for error they built up during a franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak.
Two teams on the opposite ends of the Eastern Conference playoff race will face each other Tuesday night, when the Sabres host the Islanders.
Both teams were off Monday after playing Sunday, when the Islanders earned their third straight win by edging the visiting Minnesota Wild, 2-1, and the host Sabres fell to the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1.
The Islanders' win ensured they would lead the Metropolitan Division by at least three points heading into Tuesday night (the second-place Washington Capitals hosted the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night) and lengthened their lead over the Carolina Hurricanes, who are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, to 10 points.
In other words, the Islanders are all but certain to make the playoffs, just one season after missing the postseason by 17 points and then watching star center and captain John Tavares depart as a free agent for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We're at the top of our division," Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock told Newsday. "There are all those teams below us trying to catch us. It's good, though. If we keep winning, they're not going to be able to catch us."
The Islanders haven't given division rivals much reason to hope since Dec. 15, a stretch in which they have gone 19-4-2. New York enjoyed a six-game winning streak from Dec. 23 through Jan. 5 and is 9-1-2 dating back to Jan. 13. >> Read More
Copyright 2019 by the Associated Press