BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Anders Lee scored two third-period goals and the New York Islanders preserved their playoff hopes with a 4-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Cal Clutterbuck and rookie Josh Ho-Sang also scored and Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves as the Islanders won their second straight and remained six points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with four games remaining.
New York opened a four-game road trip without star center John Tavares, who will miss the remainder of the regular season with a hamstring injury sustained in Friday's 2-1 win over New Jersey, Islanders coach Doug Weight said.
Evander Kane and Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres. Robin Lehner stopped 22 shots. Out of playoff contention for the sixth year in a row, Buffalo started its final three-game homestand of the season with its second straight loss.
Lee's two goals came 5:14 apart and gave him 31 on the season. He scored his sixth game-winner 9:19 into the third period on a slap shot from the top of the circle that trickled between Lehner's pads. Lee got an insurance goal with 5:27 remaining when he intercepted a clearing pass in front of the Buffalo net and knocked in a backhand.
Girgensons tied the game for Buffalo at 5:17 of the third period when he tipped in a saucer pass from Matt Moulson.
The Islanders struggled to create scoring chances throughout the second and third periods and twice surrendered one-goal leads before Lee's goals.
Clutterbuck gave New York a 1-0 lead 9:31 into the first period when he lifted a wrist shot from the right circle over Lehner's glove.
Kane scored his team-leading 27th goal to tie the game for Buffalo midway through the second. C.J. Smith, the leading scorer for UMass-Lowell this season, sent a backhand to Kane in the slot to record an assist in his NHL debut.
The Islanders regained the lead less than a minute later when Ho-Sang got the puck off of a Jack Eichel turnover and beat Lehner on a breakaway. New York didn't have a shot on goal for the first 11:04 of the period prior to Ho-Sang's goal.
Ho-Sang, the Islanders' 2014 first-round pick, has 10 points in 15 games since making his NHL debut on March 2.
NOTES: Sabres D Rasmus Ristolainen returned from a three-game suspension for his hit on Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel. ... Sabres RW Kyle Okposo (illness) missed his second straight game and will also be out Monday against Toronto. ... Islanders C Connor Jones made his NHL debut after being recalled from the minors on Saturday.