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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, March 30th (All times eastern)

New York Islanders (36-28-12) at Buffalo Sabres (49-20-7), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders shoot for a much-needed win in one of the NHL's toughest buildings this evening, when the playoff hopefuls pay a visit to Buffalo's HSBC Arena to take on the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres.

With just six games remaining in the regular season, New York stands in 10th place in the East and two points out of a playoff spot. The Isles haven't helped their cause by dropping two straight games at home this week, including Tuesday's 3-2 setback to New Jersey.

Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake had the goals for New York, with Randy Robitaille assisting on both markers. Mike Dunham stopped 29-of-32 shots between the pipes before leaving the contest because of leg cramps with just under 13 minutes remaining.

Dunham is expected to be back in goal tonight, but the Isles continue to be without regular netminder Rick DiPietro. The former No. 1 overall pick continues to battle post-concussion symptoms and could be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season.

New York has won just once (1-9-1) in Dunham's last 11 appearances.

The Islanders also could be without standout forward Ryan Smyth, who has a leg injury and is questionable for tonight's contest.

New York has dropped five of its last six road tilts and owns a 16-16-6 record away from home on the season. The Islanders have also lost in each of their last three visits to Buffalo, but did halt a six-game losing streak in this series with a 5-3 triumph at Nassau Coliseum in January.

The Sabres are coming off a key 4-3 victory over the slumping Devils on Wednesday, Buffalo's third win in four games. Jochen Hecht had two goals to lead the way, while Daniel Paille and Ales Kotalik each scored once in their respective returns to the lineup.

Kotalik had missed the previous 16 games with a knee injury, while Paille was sidelined for 15 contests with an injured hand.

Ryan Miller finished with 28 saves for the Sabres, who lead Atlantic Division front-runner Pittsburgh by five points in the race for the East's No. 1 playoff seed.

Buffalo brings a strong 26-10-3 home record into tonight's tilt and have won three straight at HSBC Arena.

03/30 10:44:50 ET

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