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‘Can’t be disappointed’: Islanders lose, still control fate


NEW YORK — No team in the NHL this season has lost in overtime or the shootout more than the New York Islanders. But all of those losses add up to the Islanders remaining in control of their playoff fate after their 3-2 shootout loss to the rival New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

“We can’t be disappointed with it. Every point matters here down the stretch. It’s obviously very tight within the division and within the wild card, so it’s a big point today on the road against a great hockey team,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “The extra point could have gone either way in a shootout or overtime.”

It was the 16th time the Islanders lost after regulation, one more than the Boston Bruins (15) have this season. The point they earned for a regulation tie against the Rangers gave the Islanders 90 points in 80 games, good for third in the Metropolitan Division. They have games at the New Jersey Devils (April 15) and at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins (April 17) still on the schedule.

The Islanders are now five points ahead of the Washington Capitals (3 games remaining), Detroit Red Wings (3 games remaining) and Philadelphia Flyers (2 games remaining), the three teams currently outside the Eastern Conference wild card spots.

The Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Red Wings are in Toronto and the Flyers host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Islanders can clinch a playoff spot if the Red Wings and Capitals both lose in regulation.

The Islanders have a four-point lead over the Penguins, who host the Bruins on Saturday night while holding down the final wild card spot with 86 points. Pittsburgh hosts Nashville on April 15 before finishing the season at the Islanders, in a game that could still determine everything from seeding in the Metropolitan Division to whether the Penguins or Isles are even in the postseason.

The Rangers, who set a franchise record with their 54th win of the season, moved three points ahead of Carolina for first place in the Metro. The Rangers only have one game remaining vs. Ottawa on April 15, while Carolina finishes with games at Chicago (April 14) and Columbus (April 16).

The Rangers rallied to beat the Islanders on Saturday, as Artemi Panarin scored a game-tying goal at 15:43 of the third period and Vincent Trocheck had the definitive goal in the shootout. Igor Shesterkin made 33 saves, including a brilliant one on Islanders star Mathew Barzal late in overtime.

But the Islanders picked up a point, and that could make all the difference in the final standings.

“It’s a big point for us, but in the same way, we would have loved to have those two points, don’t get me wrong,” Islanders coach Patrick Roy said. “But at the same time, like I said, it was a hard-fought game. Both teams had their chances.”

The Islanders took three of four points against the Rangers in their past two meetings, playing well against the team with the NHL’s best record. But players such as Brock Nelson didn’t want to get ahead of themselves in looking ahead to a possible playoff meeting with the Rangers, whom the Islanders haven’t faced in a playoff series since the 1993-94 season.

“That’s probably a little too far ahead I guess for us. We’re happy at the point now,” Nelson said. “I think we’re watching some other games to kind of see what happens, but for us, we’re just trying to fight for the next game and kind of control our own destiny.”


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