4/13/14 Preview: Isles in Buffalo to Face Sabres
The Islanders will close out the regular season Sunday afternoon as they travel to league-worst Buffalo. The Islanders will try to improve to an impressive 21-18-2 on the road this season, a small silver lining in an otherwise disappointing season.
These two met last month in Uniondale as the Islanders skated away with the 4-1 victory. Goals by Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome and Cal Clutterbuck led the attack. The two have split the previous two meetings this year.
New York will also be trying for its third straight road victory after beating the Devils 3-2 Friday night. The Islanders got goals from Josh Bailey and Strome in the shootout on nify spin-o-ramas on Martin Brodeur in what may be the legend's last appearance in a Devils' uniform. Rookies Strome and Anders Lee scored goals in the non-skills competition portion of the game.
The Islanders' roster has seen a major overhaul since they last saw Buffalo. The team now resembles a skating MASH unit and Islander rookies have worn out the trail between Bridgeport and Long Island. Expect the Islanders to dress 11 rookies Sunday afternoon.
The Sabres have their own injury concerns. They saw five players leave the game with injury during their Saturday matinee tilt against Boston. Goalie Connor Knapp came in relief of injured Matt Hackett and became the sixth different goalie to see game action for the Sabres this year.
The Sabres' offensive attack is paced by forwards Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Cody Hogdson who have had solid campaigns for the beleagured Sabres this year.
While Buffalo seemingly locked up the worst record in the league months ago, the Islanders are in a heated "battle" with Calgary for 26th. A loss would guarantee the Islanders another top 5 pick in June's draft which they will most likely retain and instead give Buffalo their first round pick next year to complete the Thomas Vanek trade.
Sunday will also mark the last opportunity many rookies will get to make an impression on the organization before training camp. Rookies Anders Lee, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and John Persson are among those who will get a long look by the organization to see if they are part of the long term plans.
Expect Evgeni Nabakov to get the start in net. Nabakov is coming off his fourth shutout of the season Thursday night in Montreal. This could also be the last time for Nabakov in an Islander uniform as he's set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer.
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