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Islanders in playoffs after Panthers beat Bruins

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John Tavares feels the Islanders will be a 'hard team to match up against in the playoffs.'Claus Andersen/Getty Images

John Tavares feels the Islanders will be a ‘hard team to match up against in the playoffs.’

The Islanders are in.

Despite being idle on Thursday night, the Isles clinched their second postseason berth in three years thanks to a 4-2 victory by the Panthers over the Bruins. With one game left to play in their season, Boston is on life support and stuck on 95 points. They cannot catch the Isles, who already have 98.

Though they have now officially punched their ticket, the Isles (46-28-6) haven’t looked much like a playoff team of late. On March 10th they had 90 points and were still in first place with a one-point edge over the Rangers. They are 3-7-2 since then and have just 98 points exactly one month later.

Now that they are in, there is still much to play for. Home ice still isn’t out of reach in the first round, but only if the Isles can win their final two games and vault ahead of the second-place Capitals (101 points), who have one game left to play. Friday night’s matchup in Pittsburgh will be as close to a playoff game as the Isles have seen this year as the Penguins (96 points) are also fighting for their playoff lives and could still pass them in the standings.

Beyond playoff positioning, the Islanders would simply like to end their regular season with some momentum with wins in Pittsburgh and in Saturday’s regular season finale against the Blue Jackets. Despite their recent dry spell, John Tavares still thinks the Isles will be a tough out come playoff time.

“Personally, I think we’ve proven this year the talent we have, the depth we have. We’re a hard team to match up against,” said the Islander captain who is still in the hunt for the Art Ross Trophy. “I don’t think teams like playing us. We’re a tough team to match up against.”

“We feel we’ve got the right personnel to get the job done,” Travis Hamonic said. “We’re just excited for the challenge. It’s going to be a big weekend for us, certainly, and Friday night should be one of the funner games to play in.”

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