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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, February 27th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (29-23-9-2) at Buffalo Sabres (28-28-6-1), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The battle for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference heats up tonight when the Buffalo Sabres welcome the New York Islanders to HSBC Arena.

With 69 points, the Isles currently sit eighth in the conference race -- six ahead of the Sabres and seven up on the Florida Panthers. New York is three points behind the seventh-place Montreal Canadiens.

The Islanders hope to rebound from Thursday's 6-3 loss to the rival Rangers at Nassau Coliseum. Jaromir Jagr and Chris Simon both scored twice to lead the Blueshirts to their sixth win over the Isles in as many tries this season.

Janne Niinimaa, Mariusz Czerkawski and Sven Butenschon provided the scoring for the Islanders, who dropped to 3-2-4 in their last nine games. The Isles needed two goaltenders in this one as Garth Snow made 15 saves and Rick DiPietro stopped four shots.

On the injury front, Islander captain Michael Peca left the match with a laceration on his left leg. Peca, who was hit by a Tom Poti slap shot, is not expected to be in the lineup tonight.

New York, 1-2-2-1 in their last six road games, will host Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Buffalo, meanwhile, has dropped two straight on the heels of a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1). On Wednesday the Sabres were humbled by an 8-2 pounding in New Jersey. Patrik Elias scored two goals and assisted on three others to lead the Devils.

Derek Roy and Maxim Afinogenov each notched a goal and an assist for Buffalo, which is 9-3-1 in its last 13 games overall.

The Devils took the lead for good with a pair of goals just under two minutes apart late in the first period.

On the injury front for the Sabres, right wing Ales Kotalik is expected to miss tonight's game due to a strained shoulder suffered Wednesday. Kotalik has 15 goals and 11 assists in 62 games this season.

Buffalo, 4-0-1 in its last five at home, will visit Ottawa on Saturday.

The Islanders are 3-0 against the Sabres this season, and have won six straight in the series.

02/27 10:20:12 ET

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