The New York Islanders will look to continue their push toward the postseason and extend their home dominance of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday when the teams meet in Elmont, N.Y
The Islanders (40-30-9, 89 points) find themselves tied in points with the Panthers to occupy one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference, although Florida holds the tiebreaker with more regulation wins (35-34). The clubs reside one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins with three games remaining on each team's schedule
Little was solved on the wild-card front Thursday, as the Islanders, Panthers and Penguins won their games in regulation
"We knew what was at stake," Bo Horvat said after he collected a goal and an assist in New York's 6-1 romp over the Tampa Bay Lightning. "... All the teams we wanted to lose tonight, won. We just have to keep winning and playing our game."
Brock Nelson recorded a goal and two assists and defenseman Ryan Pulock had one of each for the Islanders. Defenseman Adam Pelech opened the scoring at 3:46 of the second stanza, marking the first of four goals for New York in the period
"Every game's must-win at this point," Pelech told the New York Post. "So the emphasis was definitely get off to a good start, which is what we did. We played great in the first period, and we continued that for 60 minutes."
Kyle Palmieri and Simon Holmstrom also scored for the Islanders, who had lost four of their previous six games (2-3-1)
"Beating a team that's headed to the playoffs, you hope it's a little springboard for our next three -- and don't look back," Zach Parise told the New York Post.
The Islanders begin their final regular-season stretch against three teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention
New York has won all three of its games against Philadelphia at UBS Arena and each of the last six contests at home versus the Flyers. The Islanders will follow Saturday's clash with a short trek to Washington to face the Capitals on Monday, and then return home to tangle with the Montreal Canadiens two nights later
The free-falling Flyers (29-36-13, 71 points) lost their fifth game in a row overall (0-4-1) and ninth straight on the road (0-8-1) Thursday with a 4-1 decision to the Dallas Stars. Philadelphia concludes its current four-game road trip on Saturday
Dallas scored the game's first four goals before Kevin Hayes replied in the second period for the Flyers
"They're a good team," Hayes said after ending his 23-game goal drought. "They got four guys on the rush, and I thought they took advantage of that early on in the game. Gave us a couple of fits. You dig yourself that deep of a hole, it's tough to come out in this league."
Hayes has recorded four points (two goals, two assists) in three games versus the Islanders. New York, however, has won two of the three meetings
Pulock notched four assists in the Islanders' 5-2 victory over the Flyers on Nov. 26
--Field Level Media