BUFFALO, N.Y. - Thomas Vanek scored the lone goal in the shootout and Ryan Miller made 30 saves before the tiebreaker as the Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1 Friday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Keith Aucoin scored for the Islanders, who moved up from eighth to sixth in the Eastern Conference but need help to stay there. The Islanders lead the Rangers and Senators by one point, 55-54, but the Rangers have one game left and Ottawa two.
The regular season ends Sunday with the Senators at Boston in a game that originally was scheduled for Boston Marathon day but was postponed because of the bombings.
Miller, playing in his 500th game with the Sabres, sealed the win when he stopped John Tavares' shot in the third round of the shootout.
Brian Flynn scored in regulation for the Sabres, off an assist from Vanek.
Buffalo is missing the playoffs for the second straight season and fourth in six years.
Miller became the 20th goalie to play 500 games with one team. He received an ovation from the crowd before the game when he was recognized as the team's most valuable player. In his last home start before Friday, Miller was booed off the ice as the Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention.
New York controlled the action in overtime but couldn't get the puck past Miller. Tavares misfired on three shots from close range, and Miller stood up to hard slap shots from Brian Strait and Josh Bailey.
Aucoin got the Islanders even at 1 with 12:34 left in the third period, slipping the puck between Miller's pads.
Buffalo took the lead 3:29 into the second period when Vanek won a battle for the puck along the boards and sent a cross-ice pass to Flynn, who fired a slap shot from the top of the right circle over Evgeni Nabokov's glove.
Around the league: Penguins star Sidney Crosby returned to practice for the first time since having his jaw broken by a shot March 30. He took part in noncontact drills, wearing a protective facemask. His status for next week's playoff opener is uncertain. The Penguins expected to get two injured players back for tonight's regular-season finale against the Hurricanes, defenseman Paul Martin (broken hand, out 12 games) and forward James Neal (concussion, out eight). ... Despite a lockout that kept the season from opening until January and generated a lot of bad feelings among fans, teams are filling their buildings to 97.4 percent of capacity and TV ratings nationally and locally are up considerably, commissioner Gary Bettman told an Associated Press Sports Editors group meeting in New York. ... Tim Leiweke, brother of Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke, was hired as president and chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs. Tim, 56, was president and CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings, among other entities, for 17 years before leaving in March in what he said was a mutual agreement.
at Sabres 0 1 0 0 2 Islanders 0 0 1 0 1 Sabres win shootout 1-0
First Period-None. Penalties-Weber, Buf (interference), 8:41; Strait, NYI (interference), 13:02; Boulton, NYI, misconduct, 20:00; Scott, Buf, misconduct, 20:00.
Second Period-1, Buffalo, Flynn 6 (Vanek), 3:29. Penalties-Strait, NYI (delay of game), 3:48; Stafford, Buf (roughing), 4:42; Ennis, Buf (roughing), 4:42; Carkner, NYI, served by Aucoin, minor-major (elbowing, fighting), 12:03; Scott, Buf, major (fighting), 12:03.
Third Period-2, N.Y. Islanders, Aucoin 6 (MacDonald), 7:26. Penalties-None.
Overtime-None. Penalties-Porter, Buf (hooking), 1:25.
Shootout-N.Y. Islanders 0 (Nielsen NG, Boyes NG, Tavares NG), Buffalo 1 (Vanek G, Stafford NG, Hecht NG). Shots on Goal-N.Y. Islanders 9-9-8-5-31. Buffalo 10-5-6-1-22. Power-play opportunities-N.Y. Islanders 0 of 4; Buffalo 0 of 3. Goalies-N.Y. Islanders, Nabokov 23-11-7 (22 shots-21 saves). Buffalo, Miller 17-17-5 (31-30). A-19,070 (19,070). T-2:39. Referees-Rob Martell, Kevin Pollock. Linesmen-Jonny Murray, Tim Nowak.