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Islanders clinch playoff spot, set for Round 1 rematch vs. Hurricanes

April 16, 2024, 11:12 PM ET [1 Comments]
Ben Shelley
New York Islanders Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT




The New York Islanders managed to do it, clinching a playoff spot in their second-to-last game of the season yesterday, with a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.


Despite a slow start, the Islanders were able to take a lead on their first shot of the game 12 minutes in, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau buried a 2-on-1 pass from Pierre Engvall to open the scoring. Then later in the frame on a power play, Mike Reilly threw the puck on net, and Kyle Palmieri managed to tip it, changing the direction to beat Jake Allen and make it a 2-0 game.

The Devils did get on the board a few minutes into the second period, when Timo Meier buried a rebound in front of the net, but Brock Nelson responded later to reinstate the three-goal lead, leaving New York ahead 3-1 after 40 minutes, despite only having registered nine shots on goal.

Then in the third period after New York killed a penalty, Anders Lee was able to drive to the net with the puck, and fed a pass to Kyle MacLean, who pushed the puck across the line to give the Islanders a 4-1 lead. New York did a great job preventing New Jersey from really ever mounting any sort of a comeback from there, and while an Alexander Romanov goal was called off later, the Islanders held on, taking the 4-1 win and securing their playoff spot.


While the team’s six-game win streak came to an end on Saturday in the shootout loss to the Rangers, the win over the Devils still marks a 7-0-1 run for the Islanders to sneak into the playoffs in the final games of the season once again.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, with New York looking all but out of the playoff race only 10 games ago. For them to go on the run they did deserves a lot of praise, defying some expectations to get into he postseason.

A lot of credit goes to the team’s top players for getting them here. Mathew Barzal put together one of the best offensive seasons of his career, while Bo Horvat rebounded after starting slow last season following the trade, and Brock Nelson was able to repeat his success. Then of course, Noah Dobson's season may be on a different level.

Kyle Palmieri can be streaky, but his late-season scoring has also been huge, after so much of the team’s offense coming from the top three forwards plus Dobson. After managing 15 goals through his first 59 games of the season, Palmieri has exploded for 14 goals over his last 22 games, notably with five goals and nine points over his last six games.

Meanwhile, Semyon Varlamov has essentially played his way into the team’s starting role for the playoffs. At this point, he’s being counted on consistently for big games, and we can expect him to take the net for Game 1.

With the Islanders clinching, they’ll be moving on to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight year. It also marks the third time in the team’s last five playoff appearances that they’ll meet the Hurricanes.

Admittedly, it’s a tough matchup. For as good as the Islanders have been over the last eight games, the Hurricanes have been on fire in the back half of the season, and are 13-2-1 in their last 16 games post trade-deadline.

Again though, the Islanders have gotten hot at the best time possible, and we’ve seen in recent years that if they can get into the playoffs, they can make some noise.

New York will play their final game of the season tomorrow, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.




OTHER ARTICLES FROM APRIL

- Islanders must bounce back for biggest game of season vs. Flyers
- Islanders stay alive after sweeping back-to-back set
- Islanders' playoff chances continue to improve with win over Blue Jackets
- Islanders shut out Predators, control their own playoff destiny
- Islanders hold on to beat Rangers for fifth straight win
- Isles closing in on playoff berth, but Dobson injury a reason for concern
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