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Islanders 5, Thrashers 1 @NHLdotcom

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Islanders are playing as though they can still make the NHL playoffs.

Miroslav Satan had a goal and two assists, and the New York Islanders beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-1 Saturday night.

"Every game from here on out is a Game 7," Satan said. "This was a chance to stay alive, and we'd rather be five points out than nine points out. At nine points, it's just about over."

Rick DiPietro earned his career-best 27th win by making 22 saves. Mike York, Sean Bergenheim, Alexei Yashin and Bruno Gervais added goals for New York.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 45th of the season for Atlanta, which had a three-game winning streak snapped. With Montreal's win over Toronto on Saturday, Atlanta fell one point behind the Canadiens for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders are in 10th place, six points behind the Canadiens and five behind Atlanta. New York will play at Montreal on Tuesday. The top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs.

"This was it - do or die," DiPietro said. "Every point is all important."

Kari Lehtonen started in goal for the Thrashers and turned aside 23 shots. Mike Dunham made five saves in relief.

The Islanders have won six straight at home.

Bergenheim gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 10:44 of the first period. Just after a power play ended, there was a goal-mouth scramble. Lehtonen couldn't find the loose puck before Bergenheim, who poked it in the net.

York made it 2-0 with a short-handed goal at 4:46 of the second period. Satan made a diving play at center ice to spring York free on a breakaway. York pushed a low forehand just inside the right post.

"I just went for it," Satan said of his diving attempt. "I'm glad Yorkie was able to finish."

That was the turning point, and the Thrashers couldn't recover.

"It was 1-0 after 25 minutes, and we had a power play, and that turned it around," Lehtonen said. "It was a lucky bounce for them, but unfortunately, it also gave them confidence."

Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said the Thrashers were lucky to be in the game even before the goal.

"We were outplayed from the moment the first puck was dropped," Hartley said. "You don't need to be a rocket scientist to see how we played. The short-handed goal hurt a lot, but that was because of poor execution on our side."

Satan scored his team-leading 29th goal for a 3-0 lead at 13:40. He picked up the puck at the right corner, cut across to the slot, waited for a screen to be set, and then wristed the puck low to the left corner.

Yashin scored 43 seconds later on a low screen wrister from the right circle for a 4-0 lead.

Gervais scored on the second half of a two-man advantage 73 seconds into the final period for a 5-0 lead.

Hartley pulled Lehtonen and inserted Dunham with 12:32 left. Dunham's last appearance was Jan. 19 when he gave up seven goals in an 8-6 loss at Los Angeles. He went 22 games between appearances.

"It was more to get Dunnie some work rather than pulling Kari," Hartley said.

DiPietro lost his shutout bid at 8:26 when Kovalchuk scored a power-play goal. DiPietro doesn't have a shutout this season, and has five for his NHL career.

The Thrashers have never made the playoffs, and Hartley recognizes the pressure his players are under.

"This is the time of year you wait for, and we're right there," Hartley said. "Guys who have never been in the playoffs before will feel that pressure. We're approaching the finish line of an 82-game season. It now goes from a marathon to a sprint, and when you're bunched up with other teams like we are, it's not talent that will get you there, but commitment."

Notes: The Islanders are on their eighth set of back-to-back games. New York, which lost in overtime at Pittsburgh on Friday, is 5-3 on the second half. New York has three consecutive sets left. ... The Islanders won three of four against the Thrashers. Atlanta forward Serge Aubin sat out after injuring a knee Thursday against New Jersey.

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