Although the Toronto Maple Leafs have beaten three playoff contenders in their last four games, they still are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Maple Leafs will try to keep their playoff hopes alive when they host the New York Islanders, who are well out of contention.
Toronto recorded victories over New Jersey, Philadelphia and Buffalo in its current four-game points streak, before losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Sabres on Monday in their second straight meeting.
Toronto and Florida are tied for 10th place in the East with 77 points each, trailing Tampa Bay, which has 85 points and holds the eighth and final playoff berth.
The Maple Leafs started the season strong, capping a season-high six-game winning streak with a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Jan. 2 to improve to 23-14-3. Toronto has gone just 12-18-4 since then, however, including losing streaks of five and eight games to put their postseason streak in jeopardy.
“We still got to keep plugging away until we’re mathematically eliminated,” Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. “We know we need them to fall down a little bit, clearly, because we’ll run out of time here.”
The Maple Leafs ran out of time Monday after they rallied from a two-goal to force a shootout. John Pohl and Matt Stajan scored for Toronto in regulation, but Buffalo’s Maxim Afinogenov had the only goal in the shootout.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 34 saves in his fourth consecutive start. Recalled from the AHL on March 14, Aubin boasts an impressive 1.71 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.
Toronto has 13 wins, three losses and a tie in its last 17 meetings with New York at home.
The Islanders, meanwhile, have dropped four in a row overall and five straight on the road.
New York allowed three first-period goals Sunday en route to a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia. Shawn Bates scored on the power play for the Islanders, who outshot the Flyers 32-22.
“We want to win, whether it’s checkers or hockey,” said Islanders forward Mike York, whose team has lost eight of its last 10.
After Tuesday’s meeting, these teams will meet one more time in New York on April 11th. home.