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Islanders boost playoff chances with win

Defeat Blue Jackets, are four points ahead of Flyers for first wild card

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / NHL.com Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders have made themselves right at home in their first season at Barclays Center.

Anders Lee scored a tie-breaking power-play goal 5:23 into the third period, and the Islanders moved two points closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

After Columbus tied the game 3-3 on a goal by Boone Jenner 37 seconds into the third period, Lee put the Islanders back in front with his 14th goal of the season and second in as many games. With defenseman David Savard off for tripping, Johnny Boychuk's point shot missed the net but caromed back into the crease, where it hit Lee's skate and slid into the net.

It was one of two goals scored by the Islanders after shots that missed the net hit the lively end boards and kicked back into prime scoring position.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Tavares buries puck past Bobrovsky

"You shoot it off the end boards and it comes out pretty good," said Islanders captain John Tavares, whose second of two first-period goals also came after a lively carom. "When we get a chance to shoot it, we're trying to get to the net; our 'D' is always working on getting pucks through to the net. … and sometimes it comes out pretty hot. We just try to get to the net and be hungry on loose pucks."

The victory gave the Islanders a 24-9-4 record in their new home, where they are 9-1-1 since the All-Star break.

Lee's goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday was also scored when he battled for position in front of the net during a power play.

"He's made a name for himself," coach Jack Capuano said. "He's a big body, 230 pounds, and he's tough to move. You've got to pay your dues, go there if you want to score goals."

Video: CBJ@NYI: Lee crashes the net and beats Bobrovsky

The victory gave the Islanders (42-25-9) a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Each team has six games remaining. The Islanders also pulled within two points of the third-place New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.

"These were two points that we came in needing to get," Lee said. "To pull it out in the third is really important. All of these other teams around us in the standings seem to be winning, too. We have to take care of ourselves."

Capuano had no update on defenseman Travis Hamonic, who played 2:56 before he left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.

"I don't know anything, but just the fact that he didn't return says something," Capuano said.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Tavares nets Kulemin's feed for second goal

Defenseman Thomas Hickey also scored during New York's three-goal first period. Thomas Greiss made 21 saves, including big stops on Brandon Saad and Scott Hartnell in the final 6:30 of the third period.

Brandon Dubinsky and Saad scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves for Columbus (30-39-8), which lost all five games against the Islanders this season.

"I'm not going to get into moral victories," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We lost another hockey game."

After the Islanders controlled play for the first few minutes, the Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead at 4:14 when Dubinsky scored on their first shot on goal. Jenner blocked a shot by Boychuk at his own blue line, triggering a 2-on-1 break that Dubinsky finished with a wrist shot from inside the left circle past Greiss for his 15th goal of the season.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Greiss turns away Saad in front

Tavares tied it 1-1 at 7:25, taking Ryan Strome's pass and beating Bobrovsky from nearly the same spot that Dubinsky scored from.

New York went ahead 2-1 at 17:51 when Hickey's slap shot from the left point beat Bobrovsky. Tavares made it 3-1 at 18:32, scoring his team-high 29th goal into a wide-open net after Nikolay Kulemin got to the carom of Brian Strait's miss off the end boards and deflected it across the front of the crease.

The Islanders outshot the Blue Jackets 15-2 in the first period and out-attempted them 30-6.

"I liked the way we responded after they scored," Tavares said. "It could have been a little disheartening. We got a bad break after Johnny's shot was blocked, but we did a good job responding; we got three goals."

Columbus made it 3-2 when Saad scored a power-play goal at 15:48. Saad's long wrist shot squeezed through Greiss' pads and into the net for his 25th goal.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Hickey beats Bobrovsky from the blue line

"We settled the game down in the second period," Tortorella said.

Jenner tied the game when he threw the puck at the net from the goal line to the right of Greiss. The goal was Jenner's 29th.

It was the first NHL game for Columbus rookie forward Sonny Milano, the Blue Jackets' first-round pick (No. 16) in the 2014 NHL Draft. Milano, a native of Massapequa, N.Y., who grew up attending Islanders games at Nassau Coliseum, had one shot on goal and two hits in 13:26 of ice time.

"I was so nervous; I'm not going to lie," he said. "It was definitely in the back of my head that it was my first NHL game."

Video: Tavares, Isles edge Blue Jackets, 4-3

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