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Montr?al Canadiens 1, New York Islanders 5 FINAL

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) _ The New York Islanders easily took care of the Montreal Canadiens, and moved very close to their third straight playoff appearance.

Mark Parrish and Roman Hamrlik each had two goals to help the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 Wednesday night.

Their magic number is two points over the Buffalo Sabres in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres stayed in contention by beating the New York Rangers 4-3 Wednesday night.

``We're still not concerned with what Buffalo does,'' Islanders coach Steve Stirling said. ``We only care about and focus on ourselves.''

Some fans chanted even chanted ``Let's Go Rangers'' in support of their biggest rivals.

``I think we're frustrated that we didn't put (Buffalo) away ourselves,'' Parrish said. ``We just have to go down to Carolina on Friday and take care of business.''

Adrian Aucoin also scored for the Islanders, and Rick DiPietro stopped 20 shots _ allowing only Jason Ward's goal _ for his 22nd win. The Islanders have won 25 games at home, their highest total since winning 26 times there in the 1984-85 season.

Jose Theodore made only 10 saves in 40 minutes before being replaced in Montreal's goal by Mathieu Garon for the third period.

The Islanders scored two goals 43 seconds apart within the first five minutes to take a 2-0 lead.

With Craig Rivet in the penalty box, the Islanders scored on their first shot. Hamrlik took Oleg Kvasha's cross-ice pass on the right side and beat Theodore with a wrist shot at 4:06.

At 4:49, Aucoin moved unchecked down the slot, took Mark Parrish's pass from the left boards and sent a wrist shot that trickled between Theodore's pads. The Islanders had two goals on just two shots.

``That was huge for them,'' Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. ``We knew they were going to come out hard. What we thought was going to happen, happened. But it's tough to come back from two goals down in this league.''

Then New York scored on three consecutive shots in a 3:23 span late in the second period to make it 5-0.

As an Islanders penalty was ending, Michael Peca scooted down right wing on a two-on-one rush with Parrish. Peca waited and crossed the puck to Parrish, whose one-timer beat Theodore at 16:01.

Hamrlik made it 4-0 with 1:09 left in the period when he moved in from the point and beat Theodore. Parrish scored with 35.3 seconds remaining.

DiPietro's venture out of the net cost him his fifth career shutout. Jim Dowd stole the puck and fed Ward in front for a one-timed goal at 8:24 of the third period.

Asked the difference between last year's playoff push, where the Islanders were hanging on, and this year's run, Parrish cited a boost in confidence.

``This year, we're doing the little things we need to do. Last year, we weren't playing well or skating well. This year, we're playing playoff hockey now.''

Veteran defenseman Kenny Jonsson said last year's team was confused under Peter Laviolette, who was fired after the season.

``We're going on a high note right now,'' Jonsson said. ``Last year, we were struggling all the way through. What's really good this year is that we're sticking to one system, and we've done so for 80 games now.''

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