Anaheim (32-29-8) is 13th in the West, eight points behind eighth-place Detroit with 13 games remaining. While they're still in striking distance of a postseason spot, getting there will be much more difficult after the league on Thursday suspended Wisniewski for a second-period hit on former Blackhawks' teammate Brent Seabrook that knocked him out as the Ducks went on to a 4-2 win a night earlier.
Wisniewski left his feet and drove Seabrook into the glass with a forearm to the jaw. Seabrook, who didn't have the puck, crumpled to the ice before being helped to the locker room.
In October, Wisniewski was suspended for two games for a hit to the head of Phoenix captain Shane Doan.
"Mr. Wisniewski delivered a retaliatory hit to the head of an opponent who never had possession of the puck," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "The fact that Mr. Wisniewski is a repeat offender also entered into this decision."
Wisniewski disagreed in light of previous events recently throughout the league.
"I am ... very disappointed in the length of the suspension. Eight games is incredibly hard to swallow, especially in comparison to other recent hits that have resulted in lesser punishment," he said in a statement.
Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke escaped being suspended for a shoulder-to-head hit against Boston's Marc Savard on March 8. Two-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin of Washington, though, drew a two-game ban after driving Chicago's Brian Campbell into the end boards Sunday.
Savard is out indefinitely while Campbell will miss up to eight weeks with a broken collarbone and fractured rib.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray said the loss of Wisniewski, who is third among Anaheim defensemen with a career-high 27 points, would be huge.
"He's a 20-some minute guy. Obviously, it's an awful blow to the hockey team," Murray said.
Tavares and the Islanders (29-32-9) will try to take advantage of Wisniewski's absence.
New York, which hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 2006-07, is one of five teams chasing Boston for the eighth and final Eastern Conference berth with 12 games left.
"It's about being professional and realizing it's not over yet," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said. "We're still in a position we can make the playoffs and we believe we can. Is it a good chance, a 99 percent chance? No, but mathematically we're able."
Tavares could make a difference as the Islanders look for a season high-tying fourth consecutive win.
He had a hand in all of New York's goals during a surprising 5-2 win at Northwest Division-leading Vancouver on Tuesday. The top overall pick in last season's draft scored twice -- equaling his total from the previous 31 games -- and added three assists for five points, both career-bests.
"I felt I was making good plays, I was creating a lot of offense the last few weeks, but it's nice when everything starts to click and go in," said Tavares, who is among the rookie leaders with 20 goals and 41 points. "It's something to build on and it obviously it feels good."
While Tavares looks to build off the best game of his brief career, Anaheim's Teemu Selanne will try again to become just the 18th NHL player with 600 goals.
Despite being limited to 43 games by a broken jaw and hand, Selanne is third on the team with 20 tallies this season. He has eight in his career against the Islanders, and hasn't scored against them since Nov. 19, 2000 when his second-period marker helped lift Anaheim to a 2-1 win.
New York has gone 5-1-0 with a tie versus the Ducks after that.