BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The New York Islanders will clinch a playoff berth if they get at least one point vs. the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.
The opportunity was made possible by a rather shocking Pittsburgh Penguins loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. That result also clinched a playoff spot for the idle Florida Panthers.
The Penguins controlled their destiny, only needing to beat Chicago and the Columbus Blue Jackets in order to advance. Now Pittsburgh needs the Islanders to lose in regulation or they're done.
While Florida is in, they can still be bumped down to the second wild card spot, adding extra drama to the final days of the regular season.
"All three of the teams battling for the wild card spots are inconsistent," Locked on Islanders podcast host Gil Martin said of the Panthers, Islanders, and Penguins.
"The Islanders are at home, they have a second chance that maybe they didn't deserve, and now there are no excuses for this team not to get into the postseason."
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That the Islanders remain in this position despite being without star center Mat Barzal for several weeks is impressive. He's been limited to 58 games and 51 points due to injury, but could be back soon.
The Panthers, by the way, scraped into the playoffs after winning the Presidents' Trophy last season, and Locked on Panthers podcast host Armando Velez believes Florida might thrive more as scrappy underdogs rather than odds on favorites.
Pittsburgh, by the way, has qualified for the playoffs in 16 straight seasons, the longest active streak in major North American professional sports.
The Islanders and Canadiens have split the season series so far, each winning one game apiece.