Big game ahead for Isles, Rangers

With the Rangers and Islanders elbowing each other to gain an edge in the final sprint to the finish line, Saturday's clash between the division rivals promises to be an exciting one at Nassau Coliseum.

With a huge 2-1 win over the Bruins in Boston Thursday, the Islanders are in seventh place with 46 points, two points ahead of the 8th-place Rangers.

Let's face it, the rivalry has been relatively dull in recent years in part because of the lack of meaningful games, but times have clearly changed as both clubs are poised to compete for playoff spots.

With eight wins in their last 10 games, the Islanders are the hot team right now. Josh Bailey powered the Isles past the Bruins Thursday with a pair of goals, and the 23-year-old has thrived recently on a line with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. Bailey has seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last six games while Nielsen has added six en route to his fifth consecutive 20-goal season.

The Rangers are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over the Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, a critical two points gained to remain among the top eight.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, both teams would like to climb the standings as well, considering the potential match-ups that await. An eighth or seventh-place finish would mean drawing the top two teams in East -- Pittsburgh and Montreal, respectively, while the coveted sixth spot gets to square off against the winner of the Southeast -- widely regarded as the weakest in the entire league. Both the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets are battling for the division title.

As of Friday morning, the game was sold out.