The New York Islanders moved into the second seed in the Metropolitan Division with a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
The Islanders win coupled with the Ottawa Senators loss means New York’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is six points.
After falling behind 2-0, New York scored three straight to take a 3-2 lead. The Islanders chased Red Wings’ started Petr Mrazek 16 seconds into the second period when Frans Nielsen gave New York a 4-3 lead.
Mrazek allowed four goals on 11 shots and was replaced by Jimmy Howard.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to start, but I think credit to our team and everyone digging deep and sticking together,” said captain John Tavares, who had three assists in the win. “We responded right away.”
Brock Nelson, Kyle Okposo and Ryan Strome had first period goals. Cal Clutterbuck had the game winner.
New York’s power play went 3-for-4 in the win.
“Our power play is pretty underrated,” said Okposo. ”Everyone is yelling shoot all the time but we have pretty good structure.”
Added Tavares: “Our power play… it was good to see we got rewarded. We’ve been doing some decent things, I think. Obviously when you don’t score, sometimes the pressure can mount.”
Tomas Tatar and Drew Miller scored on Detroit’s first two shots giving the Wings a 2-0 lead before the two-minute mark of the first period. Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk had to other Wings’ goals.
With the loss the Wings remain seven points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division. Detroit has a three-point lead on the Boston Bruins.
Howard made 15 saves in relief and was saddled with the loss.
Jaroslav Halak improved to 36-16-2 with a 25 save performance.
The win snapped the Islanders’ three-game losing streak. It was the Islanders first home win since Feb. 27 snapping a streak of seven straight losses.
“We really needed two points, especially at home,” said Tavares. “Just a character win. I don’t think it’s the way we drew it up, but we did some really good things again. The second half of the game we didn’t give up much. We need to build on it now.”