NEW YORK -- Fans of the New York Islanders and New York Rangers hoping to see their favorite teams clash in the NHL playoffs are likely to be disappointed for a 24th straight spring. As a result, Thursday night will have to suffice.
The Big Apple rivals will play their first -- and possibly final -- game this season with a playoff-type atmosphere Thursday, when the Islanders host the Rangers at Barclays Center.
Both teams are coming off slump-deepening losses Tuesday that further lengthened their odds of emerging from the packed Eastern Conference wild-card race with a playoff berth. The Islanders fell to the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-1 while the Rangers lost to the host Minnesota Wild, 3-2.
The Islanders and Rangers have both lost seven of their last 10 games to fall into the bottom two spots in the eight-team Metropolitan Division, though the Islanders (27-25-6) have picked up two points via overtime losses in that span while the Rangers (27-25-5) have suffered all seven losses in regulation.
Despite the extended swoons, the Islanders and Rangers entered Wednesday just three and four points, respectively, behind the Carolina Hurricanes in the race for the second wild card in the East. But both teams need to turn things around quickly in order to make their final scheduled clash of the season -- in the Islanders' home finale on April 5 -- consequential in the playoff chase. << Read more
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