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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 23rd (All times eastern)

Washington Capitals (22-42-9-2) at New York Islanders (34-27-10-4), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders try to move closer to securing a playoff spot tonight when they welcome the Washington Capitals to Nassau Coliseum.

With 82 points, the Isles are six ahead of the Buffalo Sabres in the race for the eighth seed, and both clubs have seven games remaining.

On Sunday, Rick DiPietro made 29 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, as the Islanders managed a 3-0 win over East-leading Tampa Bay, a possible postseason opponent, at Nassau.

Adrian Aucoin had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, who are seeking their third straight postseason berth after missing the field for seven straight years. Mark Parrish and Michael Peca also scored as New York posted its second consecutive win and fourth in five tries.

Aucoin was named NHL Defensive Player of the Week on Monday. He has two goals and two assists in his last three games, but more importantly topped all players with a plus-seven rating last week, and averaged more than 27 minutes of ice time per-contest.

New York, 2-2-1-1 in its last six home games, will visit Philadelphia on Thursday.

Washington, meanwhile, is reduced to a spoiler role as the season nears its end. The Caps are 1-5-1 in their last seven games, and see the last-place Pittsburgh Penguins only four points behind them in the overall NHL's overall standings.

On Saturday the Capitals skated to a 2-2 tie with the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. Andy Sutton scored two goals, including the tying tally with 43 seconds left in the third period, helping the Thrashers salvage the point.

Alexander Semin and Jeff Halpern each netted goals for Washington, while Olaf Kolzig stopped 43 shots in a solid effort. The Capitals are 3-10-2 in their last 15 games overall.

Washington, which has lost four straight road games, will visit the Thrashers on Wednesday.

The Caps are 2-1 against the Isles this season, but New York ended a six-game series losing streak on December 21.

03/23 10:45:46 ET

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