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New York Islanders Notch Much Needed Win In Nielsen’s 600th Career Game

The New York Islanders racked up a much-needed two points with a come-from-behind shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

  • New York Islanders 2 (41-25-9)
  • Carolina Hurricanes 1 (33-28-16)
  • NHL, Final, Box Score
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

Inhale, exhale, breath.

Following a woozy of a regulation frame, the New York Islanders squeaked out a tremendous 2-1 shootout victory to narrow their magic number to 7.

Anders Lee notched the Isles’ lone regulation goal on a tip-in with nearly seven minutes remaining in the third period, while Kyle Okposo, who went first in the shootout (surprise, surprise!), tallied the only goal in the skills competition.

Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots on 27 attempts, while the defense, which featured Brian Strait in the six-hole rather than Ryan Pulock, held their ground (although they did surrender a couple of 2-on-1’s and 3-on-2’s).

Magic Number:

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in regulation, cutting the Isles’ magic number against the Wings to seven. The last time Detroit didn’t qualify for the playoffs was in 1989-90.

The New Jersey Devils also defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in regulation, cutting the Isles’ magic number against the Bruins to eight. If the Bruins were to win out, they’d finish the season with 99 points. If the Isles were to win out, they’d finish the season with 105 points.

If the season were to finish today, the Isles would own the first wild card spot, and would face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the Metropolitan division standings.

Third Period Success:

“They play a conservative, passive game in the first two periods, and then bombard the other team in the third — using that sense of urgency we keep on speaking about — and tie it up,” Isles broadcaster Butch Goring said following the game.

It’s been a recurring theme of the Isles’ season: come out flat in the first and second periods, and then show a profound sense of desperation in the third frame. The big question: Why is this only displayed during the final period?

New York now has 81 third-period goals, good for fifth most in the league. They have 56 first-period goals and 64 second-period goals.

Nielsen’s 600th Game:

Impending free agent Frans Nielsen played his 600th career game on Tuesday night. The remarkable part? Every single one has been for the Isles.

“Overall when you talk about a guy that a lot of our young guys have learned from at the center position, that’s one guy they’ll point out,” Jack Capuano said of Nielsen before the game. “He’s really an extension of our coaching staff.”

Nielsen, who was labeled a “must re-sign free agent” by The NY Post today, said that he can’t believe it’s been this long.

“I can’t even believe I’m there right now. It literally feels like my first game was 4 or 5 years back,” he said. “Right now you just realize how you just have to enjoy to and hopefully have a lot more games to come.”

NEXT: New York Islanders Stanley Cup Playoffs Clinching Scenarios

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.