Islanders pull away from reeling Penguins
PITTSBURGH (AP) — PITTSBURGH (AP) — John Tavares broke a tie with his 37th goal of the season early in the third period and the New York Islanders pulled away to beat the reeling Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 on Friday night.
Tavares beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a rebound 2:46 into the third and Michael Grabner added his eighth of the season with less than 4 minutes remaining to help the Islanders bolster their playoff position. New York can finish no worse than third in the Metropolitan Division.
Casey Cizikas also scored for the Islanders, and Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves.
Rob Scuderi scored his first goal in more than two years for Pittsburgh, but the Penguins failed to lock down a ninth straight postseason berth. Pittsburgh still has several ways it can make the playoffs, the only certain way coming with a victory in Buffalo on Saturday.
Pittsburgh has lost five straight and is 3-9-2 in its last 14 games.
The Islanders can move into second place and earn home ice in the opening round of the postseason with a win Saturday against Columbus combined with a Washington loss to the New York Rangers.
BLUE JACKETS 4, SABRES 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Cam Atkinson scored on a rebound midway through the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves to lead Columbus past Buffalo, assuring the Sabres the best chance at the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft.
The regulation loss locked up the worst overall record in the league for the Sabres (23-50-8) and the best odds of procuring gifted forward Connor McDavid or Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel.
The Blue Jackets, who also got goals from Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert and an empty-netter from Boone Jenner, tied franchise records with their sixth consecutive home win and 12th game in a row earning at least a point (11-0-1). Todd Richards also became the Blue Jackets’ leader in coaching victories with 126, one more than Ken Hitchcock.
Brian Gionta had a goal and an assist and Mikhail Grigorenko also scored for the Sabres.