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New York Islanders

Islanders Playoff Hopes Alive And Well; Beat Blues To Push Winning Streak To Four



AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

ELMONT, NY– The hopes of making the playoffs for the New York Islanders perhaps couldn’t have been lower when they were shut out by the St. Louis Blues 12 days ago under the Gateway Arch. But after their rematch Tuesday night, those hopes are as high as they’ve been at any point this season, if not higher.

By a final of 4-2 at UBS Arena, the Islanders defeated the Blues for their fourth straight win, tying their longest streak of the season.

Although, that streak looked to be in jeopardy midway through Tuesday’s matchup.

Following a tightly contested first period that ended in a scoreless draw, St. Louis dictated play to start the middle frame.

Alexey Torpochenko sniped his 11th goal of the season a little over a minute into the period as he picked a corner off a two-on-one chance with a shot that Ilya Sorokin was too slow to catch with his glove. The scoring chance for Toropchenko came after Bo Horvat carelessly coughed up the puck at the attacking blue line.

Soon enough, the Islanders were down 2-0 when Horvat once again turned the puck over. This time, he had his stick lifted by Brandon Saad in front of the net, who then chipped the puck over to Jordan Kyrou for an easy score.

That was the last puck that made its way past Sorokin, who stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced. Almost just as quickly as the Islanders found themselves in a hole, they began to dig themselves out.

Riding the momentum of his hat trick performance on Saturday, Kyle Palmieri scored his 19th goal of the year at 12:32 of the period to get the Islanders on the board.

Sprung into the attacking end off a stretch pass from Adam Pelech, Palmieri held the puck on his backhand and used his body to shield it from Justin Faulk as he drove to the net before flipping to his forehand to finish past Blues goalie Joel Hofer.

“His line has been on fire,” head coach Patrick Roy said of Palmieri. “Kyle, since I’ve been here, has probably been our best forward. He’s been really good.”

Palmieri’s goal extended his point streak to three games. He ended the night with two after picking up an assist when Jean-Gabriel Pageua buried a loose puck for his eight goal of the season, which tied the score at two the the second intermission.

That score didn’t hold for long as Horvat made up for his earlier grievances by putting the Islanders in front just 55 seconds into the third period.

Intercepting a pass at the blue line while St. Louis attempted to break out of its own end, Horvat barreled into the attacking zone. After Hofer stopped his initial attempt with a paddle save, Horvat stuck with the play and wrapped around the back of the net for his 24th goal of the season.

“I don’t know if we could tell by my celebration, but I was pretty happy about it,” Horvat said. “I felt like I definitely owed them that. It was just one of those games where everything that I turned over went in the net. Thankfully, we got the win behind it, and thanks goes to my teammates.”

Protecting a one-goal lead late in the game, Mathew Barzal hit an empty net to drive the final nail in the Blues’ coffin.

Now with a record of 27-20-14, the Islanders have gained eight points in the standings during this recent streak. Holding 68 points, they sit just four back of the Philadelphia Flyers for a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division. They trail the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning by the same amount in the wildcard standings.

The Islanders next embark on one last extended road trip before the final stretch of the season. They’ll make their way through the always-difficult California triangle and then back through Buffalo before returning home on March 16 to host the Ottawa Senators.

By then, the Islanders could look very different as, in the middle of it all, the NHL’s trade deadline falls this Friday at 3 p.m. EST.

Islanders president and general Lou Lamoriello said on Tuesday morning he has no intention of selling. After Tuesday night, he may not need to buy either.

“I’ve been confident since the day I took the job,” Roy said. “I will say this to you, that’s the reason I came here. I like this team, and I believe in this team.”