RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Islanders moved within three points of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a 3-0 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Thursday.
Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves for the Islanders (39-29-12), who have won four in a row for the first time this season. Halak has won all five of his starts since being recalled from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League on March 23.
The Islanders are three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card. Toronto lost 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
WATCH: All Islanders vs. Hurricanes highlights
"They've wrapped their heads around it and really grasped it," Islanders coach Doug Weight said. "Certainly, we had five or six regulars out. It's a tough gig. They stepped up and played hard. I'm proud of them. They played well."
The Hurricanes (35-31-14) have lost four in a row.
The Islanders scored twice in the first five minutes. Brock Nelson scored his 19th at 1:27 before Scott Mayfield scored his second of the season at 4:39, tapping in Anders Lee's rebound in the low slot to make it 2-0.
Video: Halak earns Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
"Any time you pop a couple really quick, it sets a tone for the game and puts them in a hole," Lee said. "We just played a really good first period. We stuck with our game plan, played a simple game and didn't let them back in."
Andrew Ladd's power-play goal made it 3-0 at 39 seconds of the second period. With the Hurricanes killing the second half of Victor Rask's four-minute high-sticking penalty, Ladd beat Eddie Lack from the right circle with a shot to the far post.
Halak, who got his 41st NHL shutout, has allowed nine goals in six games since his return.
"The biggest factor has been Jaro," Ladd said. "He's been a rock back there for us. He's been solid ever since he's got back. He gives us confidence in front of him to do the right things."
New York played without injured forwards John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin, Ryan Strome and Casey Cizikas, and defenseman Travis Hamonic.
Video: NYI@CAR: Mayfield backhands a rebound into the net
Goal of the game
Nelson gave the Islanders the lead by going to the net. The rebound of his shot appeared to glance off Jordan Staal's skate and into the net to make it 1-0.
Video: NYI@CAR: Nelson nets goal after lucky redirect
Save of the game
Halak found Justin Faulk's hard slap shot through a screen, then covered the puck before Teuvo Teravainen could get to the rebound 3:37 into the third period.
Video: NYI@CAR: Halak stones Faulk's slapper through traffic
Highlight of the game
Ladd scored to the far post with a no-look shot after Josh Bailey made a sharp pass through the neutral zone.
Video: NYI@CAR: Ladd beats Lack with sneaky snap shot
Unsung performance of the game
Dennis Seidenberg's six blocked shots led Islanders defensemen, who blocked 15 total.
They said it
"As you get closer, it gets more realistic, but you're still counting on other teams to lose hockey games. We dug this hole ourselves, and we can't really blame anybody but ourselves if we don't get in." -- Islanders forward Andrew Ladd
"I just want to go game by game, not thinking about the pressure. I just want to have fun. I'm back in the NHL. Being in the AHL, it's different down there. We have a lot of young guys. They're still learning how to play the man's game. Here, it's a little easier than down there." -- Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak
"I thought we were flat and stayed flat. It was a disappointing start to the game. I didn't think we had the intensity to execute at a high level. I don't think you can play at this level and not have the NHL intensity and execution." -- Hurricanes coach Bill Peters
Need to know
New York had five previous three-game winning streaks. … The Hurricanes were 3-0-1 and scored 22 goals through the first four games of the season series prior to Thursday. … The Hurricanes have been shut out 3-0 in each of their past two home games. They lost to the Dallas Stars last Saturday.
Islanders: At the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (6 p.m. ET; MSG+. MSG, NHL.TV)
Hurricanes: Host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-CR, NHL.TV)
Video: Halak earns shutout in Islanders' 3-0 victory