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Isles prep for ‘huge’ final home game of regular season

Apr 16, 2013, 1:26 PM EST

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders Getty Images

Schedule makers didn’t do the New York Islanders any favors with their end-of-season stretch.

But for now, the team isn’t focusing on the negatives.

The Isles will play their final home game of the regular season on Tuesday against Florida — then set out on a five-game road swing to finish the year.

Needless to say, New York recognizes the importance of tonight’s affair.

“It’s huge,” forward Keith Aucoin told Newsday. “We had a real physical and emotionally draining game against the Rangers [on Saturday]. We have to make sure we play with the same effort.

“We need to finish our home games with a win, not only that it’s important to the standings. It’s almost a must-win game for us.”

After tonight’s game, the Isles will set out on a trip through Toronto, Winnipeg, Carolina, Philadelphia and Buffalo, with the final two contests of the year coming in a back-to-back situation (Flyers on Apr. 25; Sabres on Apr. 26).

It’s not an ideal schedule — no team wants to play its final home game 10 days before the end of the regular season — but few teams are better equipped to deal with an extended period away from home.

The Isles have one of the best road records in the East this season (12-5-2) and have secured at least a point in seven of their last eight road games.

Speaking of points, New York heads into tonight’s action holding the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference, three points clear of ninth-place Winnipeg and one up on the eighth-place Rangers.

Needless to say, points are at a premium. There are 12 left for grabs, and leading scorer John Tavares wants them all.

“Obviously, 12 is what we’d like to get,” he said. “Obviously, earn as many of these 12 as we can. Every game, we need results. It’s a big game, it’s our final game at home.

“We want to take advantage of that, finish the year at home on a good note.”

  1. bcisleman - Apr 16, 2013 at 1:42 PM

    Tonight is a must win for the Isles. FLA is a team they should and must beat. Then, if they can get at least a point in Toronto on Thursday and beat WIN on Saturday, a playoff spot is all but wrapped up. They can then face the last three games of the season with less pressure as they battle for seeding.

    • tuberippin - Apr 16, 2013 at 4:38 PM

      we want play-offs! *clap, clap, clapclapclap*

  2. jpelle82 - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    if you’re gonna get screwed with a 5 game road trip to end the year you couldnt ask for an easier trip i guess (minus toronto). i wouldnt be too worried about making it, isles have been good on the road, no reason to believe that wouldnt continue against these teams.

    • islesjb - Apr 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      When you’re an isles fan, murphy’s law applies. At this point, the Islanders SHOULD make the playoffs but I don’t think any Isles fan feels completely secure that a playoff birth is imminent. I think a win tonight would alleviate a lot of concerns.

  3. barkar942 - Apr 16, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Hey, I am a Ranger fan hoping that the Isles get in. They deserve it this year.
    However, please let the Rangers finish seventh and the Isles eighth. They have the best shot to take out the Penguins in the first round. (and that puts the Rangers against Montreal, who they haven’t scored on since 1922).
    I still want to see the Isles-Pens match up.

  4. jr507 - Apr 16, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    You nailed it JB. let’s hope we’re all letting out that collective sigh of relief by 930 tonight (at the latest).

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