The New York Islanders 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals was among their worst in regular season history, given what was at stake for Lane Lambert's team.
The Islanders entered the game controlling their destiny against a Capitals team that had lost six straight (0-5-1) and were playing without Alexander Ovechkin, TJ Oshie, and others. Washington dressed just 17 skaters due to cap constraints. "It's extremely frustrating," Lambert said after the game. "We knew what we had to do, and we didn't get it done. We just have to move on and get it done on Wednesday."
Now the attention goes to scoreboard watching and taking two points at home versus the Montreal Canadiens in the regular season finale at UBS Arena. The Isles will be alive no matter what when they play on Wednesday night, with a wide range of scenarios possible depending on how games break around the NHL starting tonight.
If the Islanders earn two points in OT or the shootout against the Montreal Canadiens, they will earn a playoff spot if the following happens:
- A Pittsburgh loss (of any kind) vs. Chicago (tonight) or Columbus (Thurs)
- A Florida Panthers loss vs. Carolina (Thurs)
Additionally, if the Islanders defeat the Montreal Canadiens in regulation, they will earn a playoff spot if the following happens:
- Florida Panthers lose in the shootout or OT vs. the Carolina Hurricanes (Thurs). In this scenario, the Islanders would finish with the same RWs, but have one more ROW than the Panthers, earning them the tie-breaker.
Will Thursday's game vs FLA mean anything for the Hurricanes?
The Carolina loss to the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Monday night increased the likelihood that they’ll need the game to clinch the Metropolitan Division and the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Hurricanes are home to Detroit on Tuesday night, while the New Jersey Devils host the Buffalo Sabres. Buffalo is still alive for the playoffs after a 3-2 shootout loss at Madison Square Garden vs. the New York Rangers.
A CAR win and an NJ loss clinches the division for the Hurricanes. However, as long as New Jersey earns at least a point for Buffalo, then Carolina will still take the ice versus the Florida Panthers without their playoff position secured, as the Devils own the tie-breakers. The Devils finish their regular season in Washington.
What is the best case scenario?
If the Pittsburgh Penguins fail to earn two points against the Chicago Blackhawks (losers of 12 of 13 games), the Islanders will have a "win and in" scenario at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night at UBS Arena. The Isles would clinch at least the eighth seed in that scenario.
Things look bleak for the Islanders now, but as last night proved, a lot of unexpected things can happen at the end of a hockey season. The Isles will need some more to happen, this time in their favor, for their season to continue beyond Wednesday night.