The New Jersey Devils were in the middle of their game Saturday night when they learned they'd clinched a playoff berth.
The New York Islanders spent Saturday making their path to the postseason a little more complicated.
The Islanders will look to snap an untimely losing streak Monday night, when they are slated to host the Devils in a battle of longtime Metropolitan Division rivals in Elmont, N.Y.
Both teams were off Sunday after playing at home Saturday, when the Devils beat the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and the Islanders fell to the Buffalo Sabres 2-0.
The win capped a milestone-filled day for the Devils (46-19-8, 100 points), who clinched a spot in the playoffs when the New York Rangers beat the Florida Panthers, 4-3, in a game that concluded about half an hour after New Jersey and Ottawa dropped the puck.
The postseason appearance will be the first for the Devils since the 2017-18 season and just their second since the 2011-12 campaign, which was also the last time they reached 100 points.
"I went into the dressing room after the game and said I'm proud of the work that was put in, proud of where we got to clinch tonight and to be one of three teams that have an 'X' next to their name," coach Lindy Ruff said after the Devils joined the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as the only teams to officially clinch a playoff berth.
Now the Devils are focused on ensuring their visit to the playoffs isn't a short one. A run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 is the lone trip beyond the first round since the spring of 2007 for New Jersey, which won three Stanley Cups from 1995 through 2003.
"Part one, we set our goal to play meaningful games and to be in the playoffs, so we accomplished that," Ruff said. "Part two is to make sure we don't mess up what happened in part one."
The Islanders (37-28-9, 83 points) are still in position to return to the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. New York occupies the top wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and entered Sunday one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and four points ahead of the ninth-place Panthers.
But the Islanders' position grew more tenuous by collecting just one out of a possible four points on Friday and Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have the fewest points in the Eastern Conference, and the Sabres, who are tied for 10th place in the East.
Following the 6-5 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets on Friday night, right winger Kyle Palmieri said the Islanders "didn't really come to play." New York then got shut out Saturday for the fifth time this season -- a blanking that came after a four-game stretch in which it went 3-0-1 while scoring 21 goals.
The schedule gets much more challenging for the Islanders, who will begin a three-game road trip Wednesday in which they play the division rival Washington Capitals, who entered Sunday tied for 10th place in the East with the Sabres, as well as the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Lightning and Hurricanes.
"This weekend didn't go the way we wanted it to," Palmieri said Saturday night. "But no time to hang our heads. Get ready for a good team coming in here Monday."
--Field Level Media
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