The best NHL team in the metro area wasn’t playing at Madison Square Garden last night. They were playing at the Prudential Center in Newark. But it wasn’t the hometown Devils, either. It was the Islanders, who got off to a fast start and held on to beat the Devils, 3-1, and remained in a tie with the Rangers for eighth place, as they continue their march up the standings. The Isles also trail the Devils by two points for seventh place in the conference, and took three out of five games in the season series. “They’re all big. Every night from here on out. At this point in the year ... it comes down desperation,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said after the win. The Isles haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007, finishing in last place in the Atlantic Division every year since. But with 12 games left, that could change this season. “We want to show the fans we are serious about making a push. I think we are pretty happy with the way this week went,” John Tavares said, who scored his 22nd goal of the season, a third-period power-play goal that gave the Isles a 3-1 lead. The Rangers beat the Jets, 4-2 last night, but have lost four of six and the Devils dropped their fourth straight, while the Islanders completed a 3-1 road trip — the only blemish a 2-0 loss to the Penguins, who are on a 15-game winning streak. “Not too many games left. I think it’s going by quick in the last month,” Tavares said. “Three-and-a-half weeks left here. The games are going to go by quick and points are needed, especially against teams you are competing against. I think if you take care of your own business, you should be in a good position.” After not scoring a goal Saturday, the Islanders struck early as Josh Bailey scored 52 seconds in. The Isles added another goal seven minutes later to take a 2-0 lead before the Devils even had a shot on goal. “I thought we did a good job after that [first period], too. Played a good disciplined third period and capitalized on the power play, so I think it was a good win for us,” Bailey said. It was the fourth win in five games for the Islanders, who improved to 11-5-1 on the road. Compare that to a 6-11-2 home record, and it’s probably a good thing the Islanders end the season with a five-game road trip. But tonight, they play the Jets at Nassau Coliseum, hoping to carry over last night’s momentum. “I think the record at home we’d obviously like to improve upon ... it’s just a matter of getting the result we want,” Bailey said. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 22 shots, only allowing a second-period goal to Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Islanders beat Devils, stay on course for playoff spot
New York Post | Apr 2