A regulation win would’ve put the New York Islanders into a wild card spot — at least for now.
They had been achieving far better results of late, getting them back into the playoff fight. But instead of leapfrogging teams into the final wild card position, they suffered a 7-1 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, which gives Toronto three points of separation from the Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings.
“As much as it’s just one loss, that’s a humbling loss, that’s [a butt] kicking, I’m sorry,”said Islanders coach Doug Weight, per NHL.com.
“They played a playoff game tonight; we played a hard game but we didn’t play a playoff game. That’s virtually what it was, right? We win, we’re in the playoffs as far as statistically speaking.”
That’s a big win, too, for a young Maple Leafs team that certainly has a strong chance of making the playoffs with fewer than 30 games remaining in its schedule. But as Toronto chases its post-season aspirations, the club had been up and down with its results of late, winning four times in the last 10 games.
Once again, they received contributions from their cast of youthful talent. Auston Matthews scored twice. He now has 27 goals in his rookie campaign. William Nylander notched Toronto’s third goal of the game and his 15th of the season.
It’s been a while — well over 30 years — since the Maple Leafs had this kind of scoring prowess among their rookie class, which also includes Mitch Marner.
Frederik Andersen recorded career win No. 100, stopping all but one of the 34 shots the Islanders sent his way Tuesday.
“I thought Freddie made some real good saves. The better the goalie plays, the more you settle down and the more you dial in,” said coach Mike Babcock. “We scored timely goals, and then it got to be a real good situation for us because most games in this league you’re grinding right till the bitter end.”