Islanders’ Kyle Okposo chases Carolina’s Justin Faulk here but scores the game-winner at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night.
Consecutive third-period comebacks against the Hurricanes might prove to be the difference in the Islanders returning to the playoffs.
Three days after Cal Clutterbuck’s two late goals provided an important overtime victory in Carolina, Anders Lee netted the game-tying score in the third period before the Isles went on to take a 2-1 shootout win over the Canes on Tuesday at Barclays Center.
“It’s going to go right down the wire, we knew that, in the (Metropolitan) Division,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said. “We need points to try to get to the dance and where we want to go. I thought our guys really battled for this one.”
Kyle Okposo dubbed the first-year home ice “just awful” on Tuesday night, but he potted the lone goal in the shootout as the Isles (41-25-9) moved back to four points clear of No.8 Philadelphia and No. 9 Detroit (91-87) with seven games remaining.
“These are two games we needed to win because these other teams are going to keep winning,” Okposo said. “We just have to keep putting points in the bank.”
The Islanders’ Frans Nielsen (r.) plays his milestone 600th career game.
Aside from the recent absence of starting goalie Jarsolav Halak, the Islanders’ top players mostly have remained healthy this season.
But that didn’t stop Capuano from reintroducing the time-tested “no-respect” card or from using injuries as an alibi for his team’s precarious place in the playoff pecking order earlier this week.
“We’ve got 40 wins this year. Nobody gives this team any credit,” Capuano said Monday.
Of course, this was the Isles’ 75th game, and 12 players already have appeared in at least 70, with three more likely to reach that barrier barring further injuries.