East battle for eighth gets tighter

Updated: March 15, 2004, 1:22 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
The New York Islanders are making it a race to the wire for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and it hasn't been because of any strong play by the Isles.

Eighth-place New York is 1-3-1-1 this month, allowing the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers to believe they still have a shot at the postseason. The Islanders (31-26-10-4) lead the Sabres by five points and the Panthers by seven. Florida has played one more game than the Isles and Sabres.

The situation is very familiar for the Islanders, who went 5-10-2 at the end of last season but hung on for the final playoff spot.