The New York Islanders fell to the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center Friday night in a shootout after getting a late goal to tie the game in the third period. From the opening faceoff, the Isles lacked the energy to compete with a Sabres team bent on playing spoiler.
Despite the loss, the Isles moved up from eighth to sixth in the Eastern Conference, pending the results of the final game for the New York Rangers and the final two games for the Ottawa Senators.
The New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Fllyers are both in unfamiliar situations coming into the final two games of the regular season. The visiting Isles managed to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007 with an overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, while the Flyers sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference and are mathematically eliminated from any playoff contention for the first time since the same year.
It will be the fourth and final meeting between the two Atlantic Division rivals at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. After a brutal 7-0 home loss to Philly earlier in the season, the Islanders responded with a pair of wins to lead the season series 2-1.
With the Islanders down a goal late in the 3rd at Carolina, it seemed like the clinching party would have to be put on hold. That all changed when John Tavares slid a puck to the front of the net that somehow wound up crossing the line. It would seem like some sort of supernatural force is driving them to be this lucky.
But what we are realizing collectively with each passing game is that for too long we have been mistaking lucky for good. This Islanders team is talented, driven and gritty. They are playing hockey the right way and making a starving fan base proud on a nightly basis.
With the Islanders losing in a shoot-out, they picked up a valuable point that made clinching possible. For all hockey fans with access to the out of market games, they all turned their attention to the action in the nation’s capital. The Capitals were clinging to a one goal lead when Winnipeg pulled Pavelec to bring on an extra man. As the seconds dripped off the clock for what seemed like hours, the Caps connected with an empty netter which sealed the Islanders’ fate.
They are playoff bound for the first time in 7 years.
The New York Islanders season-ending five game road trip continued last night in Raleigh as the team fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in the shootout.
The importance of the loss being in the shootout was that, in conjunction with the Winnipeg Jets regulation loss, the Isles earned their first playoff appearance since 2007. Had the Islanders lost in regulation, there would have been no clinch.
Raleigh, NC -- the New York Islanders haven’t beaten the Carolina Hurricanes in two previous meetings this season, but are hoping the third time is the charm tonight. The Isles will take a 14-5-2 road record into PNC Arena in search of their first victory against the franchise formerly known as the Hartford Whalers.
The Hurricanes are the only Eastern Conference team that the Islanders have yet to defeat during this truncated 2013 NHL season.
The Isles took a big step towards the playoffs yesterday afternoon with another road victory in Winnipeg. Brian Strait was back in the line up, so Matt Carkner sat yesterday.
This was one of the most exciting games this season, with so much on the line for both teams. In the beginning of the first, the Isles looked a little tired. That would not last long though, as Frans Nielsen scored his 6th of the season just 4:21 into the game on a nice play from Okposo and Bailey. (Photo: MVerminski/flickr)
The Isles are currently 23-16-5 (51 points) and are sitting in 7th in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and can all but clinch a postseason berth with a regulation win today. While two points wouldn’t technically ensure a playoff spot for the Islanders, it would put them in perfect position to make the NHL’s “second season.”
New York is on a 7-0-2 run since Apr. 1 and is 10-1-2 in its last 13 games, a run that is making the rest of the league take note.
It was only three years ago that John Tavares scored 24 goals in 82 games in his rookie season for the New York Islanders. He finished the year with 54 points and gave Isles fans confirmation that they were witnessing a star starting to bloom in an orange and blue jersey (Photo credit: theseoduke/Flickr).
Here we are in his fourth NHL season and Tavares just might have already surpassed every Islanders' fans wildest dreams.