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Islanders still profess hope for playoffs

Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders

Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders celebrates his second period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with teammate Blake Comeau #57. (March 14, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

ANAHEIM - Realistically, the Islanders' playoff chances are pretty improbable.

However, riding a three-game winning streak into tonight's game against Anaheim - the second of a three-game West Coast road trip - the team has not forsaken the 12 games remaining in a roller-coaster season.

In the past week, the Islanders have gone from double digits to seven points removed from the eighth-place Boston Bruins and have leapfrogged from 14th into 12th place in the Eastern Conference.

"We're still in a position to make the playoffs and we believe we can," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said after the Isles' 5-2 win over Vancouver. "Is it a good chance? No. But at the same time, mathematically, we're still able to do it. We've got to take care of our business to allow ourselves to have that chance."

The win in Vancouver came against one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference and might have provided the Islanders a springboard to mount a late-season roll.

"We're fighting for our playoff lives and we put ourselves back in it during the weekend," John Tavares said. "We started the road trip right and it's something to build on."

Through the Islanders' darkest times, coach Scott Gordon has expressed confidence in his team's desire. Regardless of where the Islanders find themselves in the standings, he doesn't expect that to change.

"As people, there are no egos," Gordon said. "And the other thing that coincides with that is that I don't think any of our players are satisfied with where they are at in their careers. They want to continue to get better and they're young enough to know they are capable of getting better."

"For myself and a lot of other guys, this is an opportunity to earn a spot in the NHL and prove yourself," defenseman Jack Hillen said.

"It's not 'this wasn't our year, so let's pack it in and we'll try again next year,' " Gordon said. "It's 'let's take the opportunity we have and get better.' "

Notes & quotes: Kyle Okposo practiced in a yellow, non-contact jersey. His status for tonight's game against Anaheim remains questionable, although his undisclosed injury isn't believed to be something that might jeopardize the rest of his season . . . Doug Weight (left shoulder) and Rob Schremp (right knee) had successful surgery this week.


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