(Sports Network) - Both in the thick of a very tight race for a playoff spot,
the New York Islanders and Winnipeg Jets square off on Saturday afternoon at
The Islanders sit seventh overall in the Eastern Conference thanks to a nine-
game point streak (7-0-2). They are one point ahead of the eighth-place New
York Rangers and three up on the Winnipeg Jets, who occupy the ninth spot in
the conference with four games left to play for all three teams.
While also looking to hold off the Jets and Rangers, the Isles are just a
point back of the sixth-place Ottawa Senators in the standings and two back of
the Toronto Maple Leafs, who sit fifth.
The Jets, meanwhile, have posted their longest winning streak since relocating
Winnipeg from Atlanta. They have won five straight and only sit two points
behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division. The
Caps also have four games left in the regular season and visit the Montreal
Canadiens on Saturday night.
Looking to end a five-year playoff drought, the Islanders bested the hosting
Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Thursday as John Tavares continued his MVP-like
season. The forward scored twice and added an assist as he ranks third in the
NHL with 26 goals.
Brad Boyes added a goal and two assists, while Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen
also scored. Evgeni Nabokov made 18 saves to help New York extend its longest
point streak since going 9-0-1 with a tie to open the 2001-02 season.
"When your forwards are making good decisions and winning all the battles, it
makes it a lot easier for us," said New York defenseman Andrew MacDonald, part
of a defense that has not allowed more than three goals in 13 straight games.
New York won the opener of a season-ending five-game road trip that still
includes trips to Carolina, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
The Jets, meanwhile, have not reached the playoffs since the franchise's lone
appearance in 2007. However, their five-game winning streak is the longest for
the club since the Thrashers won six straight from Nov. 19-30, 2010.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winner in Thursday's 4-3 overtime triumph
versus the Hurricanes, putting home a rebound off an Andrew Ladd shot 1:23
into the bonus frame.
Ladd had three assists, giving him four goals and 12 points over a six-game
point streak, while Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little extended their respective
point streaks to five games. Wheeler had a goal and two assists versus the
Hurricanes and has three goals and seven assists over his run, while Little's
two assists give him eight helpers and nine points over his streak.
Ondrej Pavelec posted 24 saves on 27 shots in the victory.
"I guess you feel the pressure a little bit, but as professionals, you're just
playing another game," said defenseman Zach Bogosian, who also scored. "I
think you've got to get the two points and that's what we've done the last
little bit here. But as far as how intense the games are and how close they've
been, I guess that can roll over to somewhat of a playoff series."
The Jets will end a six-game homestand today and will play their next two on
the road, including at Washington on April 23, before ending the regular
season at home versus the Canadiens on Thursday.
The Jets and Islanders have traded home wins this season, with New York
winning four of the past five overall. The Isles had won three straight as the
guest in this series before a 5-4 overtime loss in Winnipeg on Jan. 27.
The Sports Network