This one won't go in the Islanders' time capsule. But this Islanders team has done everything asked of it the past month, so they did just enough to earn the point they needed to clinch their first playoff berth since 2007. The 4-3 shootout loss Tuesday night to the Hurricanes was an inconsequential result. What mattered was John Tavares' goal, banked off 'Canes defenseman Justin Faulk with 1:01 left in the third that sent the game beyond regulation and got the Isles that single point. The Jets were losing 5-3 to the Caps around the same time that Carolina sewed up the shootout point, clinching a playoff berth for the Isles after one of their lesser performances of an 11-1-3 streak. "Fransie [Nielsen] said it best: It's never felt so good to lose a game," Josh Bailey said. "We'll take it." The Isles pumped 39 shots on goaltender Dan Ellis and hit a couple of crossbars, but they did not play much like the team that has reeled off 19 of a possible 22 points in April (8-0-3) to get to this clinching moment. They rallied to tie Tuesday night's game three times, the last coming after a failed Carolina two- on-one and about seven minutes after Tuomo Ruutu hit the crossbar with an open net as Evgeni Nabokov went wandering and lost possession of the puck behind his own net. "It definitely wasn't our best and we got a little lucky," said Matt Moulson, who had two assists, including the cross-ice feed to Tavares for the tying goal. "We always seem to have that confidence that we can come back." And fitting that it was Tavares who was trying to thread a perfect pass onto Kyle Okposo's stick but ended up banking it off Faulk instead. Tavares has been mentioned as a Hart Trophy candidate this shortened season, and that is the sort of play Hart voters notice. "It's definitely the biggest accomplishment since I've been in the league," Tavares said. "This is what you dream of as a kid, a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, and we've got an opportunity to do that."
Islanders clinch first playoff berth since 2007 despite shootout loss
Newsday | Apr 24