On Tuesday night, the New York Islanders avoided the pitfalls of a potential “trap game” against the Florida Panthers, picking up a huge win to improve their chances of reaching the playoffs. Their win combined with the New York Rangers’ loss to the Philadelphia Flyers opened up a three-point gap between the two teams. It was also a great chance for the Islanders to bounce back from a 1-0 overtime loss to the Rangers on Saturday. The Islanders have now taken at least a point from every single game they have played in April, and have won six of those eight games. The team is seeking a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and if they keep playing the way they have been in the past two weeks, they may even win a playoff series for the first time since 1993.
The Islanders got a huge offensive boost from Michael Grabner, who scored his 14th and 15th goals of the season in the win. They also got goals from Mark Streit, Radek Martinek and Matt Moulson, with Streit and Grabner scoring on the power play. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced, and survived a collision with the Panthers’ Jack Skille that no doubt had Islanders fans holding their breath.
A game against a Panthers team with nothing to lose at this point is a scary proposition for any team, and the Islanders did a great job of striking early and not letting up. With five games left in the regular season, they continue to look like a team on a mission, and that should help get them back into the playoffs.