The New York Islanders won't be able to avoid entering the holiday break in last place in the Eastern Conference. But on Friday night, they can ensure the Buffalo Sabres join them in the basement.
A pair of struggling teams will meet in the final game before the holiday break on Friday night, when the Islanders host the Sabres at Barclays Center. The Islanders (12-14-6) snapped a five-game losing streak on Tuesday, when it beat the Boston Bruins, 4-2. Buffalo (12-12-8) saw its losing streak reach three games on Thursday with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Another win in regulation by the Islanders on Friday will knock the Sabres into a tie for last place with 32 points apiece. But while Buffalo enters Friday seven points behind the third-place Bruins in the Atlantic Division, New York is 17 points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers, who are tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division, and 12 points behind the second wild card, the Washington Capitals.
The game Friday will represent a homecoming for Sabres right winger Kyle Okposo, who played his first nine NHL seasons with the Islanders before signing a seven-year deal with the Sabres in July. Okposo, who was one of three key Islanders to exit as a free agent following last spring's trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals, is expected to receive a video tribute during the first period, just as Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen did during their first games at the Barclays Center earlier this season with their new teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. >> Read more...