PITTSBURGH - There was never any doubt among the Islanders that they would clinch a playoff berth. That's what a few of them said Friday morning, certainly an easier thing to say after the Panthers' 4-2 win over the Bruins on Thursday night locked up that postseason spot for the Isles.
"The way it went down in Philly [on Tuesday], things like that can give you a little bit of a skewed perspective on things," said Cal Clutterbuck, who returned to the lineup Friday night after missing Tuesday's loss with an injury. "I think we took a step back the last day or two and realized you can't get caught up in one moment. There's definitely a little bit of a weight lifted."
The Islanders were 2.1 seconds from overtime and the point they needed to clinch on their own merit Tuesday when Brayden Schenn's toss from the boards eluded Jaroslav Halak and, combined with the Senators' come-from-behind win over the Penguins, stalled the clinching for another 48 hours.
They're in now, though. And certainly the big names who were part of the 2012-13 playoff squad know that Friday night's game against the Penguins and Saturday night's regular-season finale against the Blue Jackets at the Coliseum still are big.
"We clinched with a couple games left two years ago [after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Hurricanes] and we had two games where we didn't play very well after that," Kyle Okposo said. "We need to make sure we're moving the right way headed into the playoffs now."
Martin, Nielsen still out
Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen each missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury, though Nielsen skated in the morning. Colin McDonald, Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan were healthy scratches. Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) also skated Friday and could be available Saturday or for Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series next week.