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Saturday, February 28th (All times eastern)

Buffalo Sabres (31-24-7) at New York Islanders (18-36-7), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Buffalo Sabres are going through tough times right now, while the New York Islanders have endured their share of hardships all season long.

The injury-plagued Sabres will try for a much-needed victory over the Islanders, owners of the NHL's worst record, when the two teams face off this evening at Nassau Coliseum.

Buffalo has lost two straight and three of its last four games and came up short in a key matchup at Carolina on Thursday. After tying the contest midway through the third period, the Hurricanes came through with a 2-1 win when Jussi Jokinen scored the only goal in the deciding shootout phase.

The triumph drew Carolina even with Buffalo in the race for the eighth and final playoff seed in the tightly-bunched Eastern Conference. Both clubs have 69 points, which is one point more than 10th-place Pittsburgh and one less than Florida and the New York Rangers, who are tied for sixth in the standings.

The Sabres will attempt to rebound against an Islanders squad that was dealt its ninth defeat in its last 11 outings with Thursday's narrow loss to Toronto. Tim Stapleton scored the winning goal in the third round of a shootout as the Maple Leafs posted a 5-4 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

New York still managed to earn a point thanks to a late rally in regulation. Trailing 4-2 with under nine minutes left, the Islanders got goals from Mark Streit and Jon Sim, with Streit setting up Sim's game-tying tally with just 3:07 to go.

Joey McDonald made 29 saves for the Islanders in regulation and overtime, but stopped just 1-of-3 Toronto skaters during the shootout portion.

Thursday's setback came in the opener of a six-game homestand for New York, which owns a 12-13-5 record as the host this season.

The Islanders get to face a Buffalo team that won't have starting netminder Ryan Miller available for a third straight game tonight. The steady backstop is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain he suffered during the Sabres' 4-2 win over the Rangers a week ago.

Patrick Lalime performed well in Miller's absence against the Hurricanes, with the journeyman goaltender turning aside 31 of the 32 shots he faced.

In addition to Miller's injury, Buffalo has been without leading goal scorer Thomas Vanek for the past three weeks due to a fractured jaw and may not have defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (head) available for tonight's game as well.

The Sabres have emerged victorious in each of their last two visits to Long Island, including a 7-1 rout on October 13. The Islanders did exact some revenge with a 4-2 road decision over Buffalo on November 22.

02/28 10:53:45 ET


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