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The New York Islanders are continuing to hang around in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The recent key was two wins over the Winnipeg Jets this past week. While they were separated by a home loss to the Los Angeles Kings, this hasn’t been an easy stretch for New York and to take both games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then both games against the Jets is a huge step.
The Islanders dominated for the first 25 minutes of the game last night, limiting the Jets to a single shot on goal up until a few minutes into the second period. The momentum did shift a bit later on, but New York held on and it was another good reminder as to how good the team can be at their best.
So over a pretty tough stretch of games since their three losses to non-playoff teams, the Islanders have gone 4-2-0, despite many of those games coming in Mathew Barzal's absence. Even dating back to the end of January, the Islanders have gone 8-3-2 over their last 13 games.
While the Islanders sit 10th in the conference in points percentage, there’s a bit of separation now in terms of who seems to have a legitimate shot at the postseason. As of now, the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders are starting to pull away from the Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals.
New York will face the Minnesota Wild tomorrow, but looking ahead, they’ll have some gigantic games coming up afterwards. Following their game against the Wild, the Islanders’ next four outings will come against the Red Wings, Sabres, Penguins and Capitals. Talk about controlling your own fate.
With three of those games coming at home, New York has a great opportunity. If they can manage to get hot over the next stretch of games, the playoffs are still very much a reality.
There's a lot riding on the remainder of the season, with the Islanders trying to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back years. There were a lot of reasons as to why things went south last season but if they can't reach the postseason this year, there should be a lot of questions about the direction of the team this summer.
The Islanders are now down to just 19 games left, with each one becoming increasingly more important. They’ll wrap up their brief road trip tomorrow against the Wild.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM FEBRUARY
Analyzing the Bo Horvat trade
Islanders sign Bo Horvat to eight-year contract extension
Islanders hold off Flyers in Bo Horvat’s debut
Islanders shut out Kraken, sweep back-to-back set
Looking at the Islanders’ path to the playoffs
Islanders suffer third period collapse in loss to Canucks
Islanders’ playoff hopes hanging by a thread as difficult stretch begins
Islanders battle back against Penguins for much-needed win
Islanders fail to build momentum, suffer blowout loss against Bruins
Barzal-less Islanders defeat Penguins again to stay in playoff hunt