NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Islanders have been eliminated from playoff contention despite running their winning streak to five games.
Roughly an hour after beating the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Saturday night, the Islanders’ playoff hopes were dashed when the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by rallying for a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Islanders had kept their faint hopes alive by getting 37 saves from Jaroslav Halak and two goals from Anders Lee.
Toronto had come into the day needing a win to secure the final berth and it nailed it down with three goals in the final 5½ minutes, eliminating both the Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Adam Pelech and Jason Chimera also scored for the Islanders, who put their final run together with Halak in goal. He is 6-1-0 since being recalled from Bridgeport of the AHL on March 23.
Beau Bennett scored twice for the Devils, who have three wins in their last 23 games (3-16-4). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves.
Halak kept the Islanders in the game early, stopping 14 first-period shots, including a breakaway by Taylor Hall.
New York broke through early in the second period when Pelech sent a puck from his own right circle up the side board. Nikolay Kulemin collected it and found Pelech coming down the middle of the ice for Pelech’s third goal.
Lee, who leads the team with 33 goals, got his 32nd on a deflection of Nick Leddy’s shot seconds after an Islanders power play ended.
Chimera extended the lead to 3-0 early in the third period, finishing off an odd-man rush with Alan Quine for his 19th goal.
Bennett scored his seventh of the season a little more than a minute later, when his bad angle shot slipped through Halak’s pads, and the goaltender inadvertently kicked it into the net.
Lee made it 4-1 with a power-play goal in close at 8:11, his fifth goal in the Islanders’ winning streak. Bennett’s second goal of the game came with 3 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Islanders captain John Tavares missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. … Retiring New Jersey all-time points leader Patrik Elias took part in the pregame skate. He did not play this season. … Islanders won the season series 3-1. … After opening the season at home with an 8-0-2 mark, New Jersey finished 12-23-6 at the Prudential Center.
Islanders: Visit Ottawa for the season-finale Sunday.
Devils: At Detroit to face the Red Wings Sunday in the final game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday.
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