The New York Islanders were treating Friday's game in Carolina as a playoff game.
They needed to take care of business against a team they were chasing for the East's second wild card and after starting the day a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes, they finished a point above thanks to a 3-0 shutout win.
"It was a four-point game for us," Anthony Beauvillier said. "It was a playoff game. It means a lot right now, we're in a great spot and we need to keep pushing."
Thomas Greiss was the star of the show, making 45 saves for his first shutout of the season and after going 58 games without a clean sheet, the Islanders now have two shutouts - from two different goalies - in the last two days.
Johnny Boychuk's second period knuckle puck held up as the game winner, while Beauvillier provided the insurance with a third period breakaway. John Tavares iced it with his 30th goal of the season, getting an automatic goal after being tripped on his way to an empty net.
Here are three takeaways from a big win for the Islanders:
Video: Greiss makes 45 saves as Isles blank Hurricanes, 3-0
GREISS REBOUNDS FOR FIRST SHUTOUT:
Thomas Greiss had struggled at times over the past two months and was pulled in his last outing, but Head Coach Doug Weight entrusted his goalie in a big spot and got a matching performance.
Greiss stopped all 45 shots he faced for his eighth-career shutout and first win since making a career-high 52 saves against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 15. But the team took some responsibility for Greiss' record over the past two months, saying they owed their goalie a better performance in front of him.
"He was outstanding," Weight said of Greiss. "He was just a big piece of that win. And on the team's behalf, I thought we had the best effort in front of Thomas we've had in the last six weeks."
Video: NYI@CAR: Greiss makes 45 saves in shutout win
Weight has always spoken highly of Greiss' battle level and how he makes contact and fights for his crease. It was on display Friday, as Greiss was aggressive on his challenges, notably coming out to stymie Noah Hanifin in the first period and coming up with four key saves on an early third period power play.
"We owed him at least one good game in front of him and he was really good tonight," Beauvillier said. "The last two starts he had, we left him by himself. I'm sure it feels good for him, it feels good for us and we have to keep pushing that way. It was a great win for us."
Video: NYI@CAR: Boychuk scores on one-timer from the point
OFFSIDE CHALLENGE PROVES TO BE TURNING POINT:
The Islanders caught a big break in the third period, as they successfully challenged and overturned Jeff Skinner's would-be tying goal for offside.
Johnny Boychuk's antenna went up immediately when he had spotted Skinner lift his skate off the ice before the puck entered the zone and turned around to look at Weight. The Islanders' coach made the call to Matt Bertani and Doug Holewa, the team's eyes in the sky and they determined it was worthwhile to challenge.
It changed the complexion of the game, keeping the Islanders ahead instead of in a 1-1 tie with 16 minutes to play. Anthony Beauvillier called it a turning point, while Brock Nelson said the momentum swing was like scoring a goal.
"We used that forsure. It could have been pretty deflating if it stands," Nelson said. "It definitely helped us. We were able to feed off that and it's almost like scoring a goal, you feed off that energy and go back out there."
Video: NYI@CAR: Beauvillier shows off speed, goes five-hole
ISLES LEAPFROG CANES AND JACKETS:
With the win, the Islanders leapfrogged both the Carolina Hurricanes (63 points) and Columbus Blue Jackets (63 points) to move back into the second Eastern Conference wild card.
Their playoff position is tentative, as the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets - who got a point Friday in an OT loss to Philadelphia - both hold games in hand on the Islanders, but it was an important result nonetheless.
"It was a big two points, but now we have to forget about it and move onto the next one," Boychuk said.
After playing three straight divisional games - all with playoff implications - the Islanders have two days off before facing the Minnesota Wild in a President's Day matinee.