The Rangers’ playoff opponent in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs — will it be the Penguins or Panthers? — is still in the hands of the Islanders.
And when the Islanders lost, 4-3, in overtime to the also-ran Sabres at Barclays Center on Saturday night after the Rangers won in the afternoon, the stage still wasn’t set. It will be settled Sunday night.
The Islanders, with 100 points, are in fourth in the Metropolitan Division, one behind the third-place Rangers, who beat the Red Wings, 3-2.
The Rangers, whose regular season is over, will face the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins if the Islanders lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night. The wild-card Islanders would play the Florida Panthers, who won the Atlantic Division.
If the Islanders win, the Rangers will head to Florida.
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The Islanders need two points to finish third because the Rangers own the first tiebreaker — regulation wins plus overtime wins (43).
“You want to go in there feeling good about yourself and at the end of the day, you don’t pick who you play,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after his team won Saturday.
“It looks more like Pittsburgh, I would say at this point. That’s the hottest team since Christmas . . . [and] Florida finished first in their division, so it’s going to be tough. Whoever’s there, we’ll be ready for it and we’ll compete hard.”
“If we play Pitt, we played them last year, we played them well this year,” said Kevin Hayes, who scored his 14th goal Saturday
The Rangers finished at 46-27-9. Their 99 wins over the last two seasons is the most in any two-year span in franchise history.
“To be able to come out of it with 101 points,” center Derek Stepan said, “it’s a job well done. We’re excited to get the playoffs started.”