The New York Islanders' dormant offense has been revitalized in the last two games. That trend needs to continue if they want to reach the playoffs for a second straight year.
The Islanders hope to win three straight for the first time in nearly two months on Saturday night when they face the Atlanta Thrashers.
The league's lowest-scoring team with 143 goals, the Islanders (26-25-7) have tallied nine times in back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Toronto following a season-high seven-game skid.
|Ruslan Fedotenko celebrates his second goal against the Maple Leafs Thursday night. (AP Photo/Adrian Wyld)
Ruslan Fedotenko scored two of the Islanders' four power-play goals and Bryan Berard added a goal and two assists as they held on for a 5-4 victory Thursday at Toronto.
"This is a big win for us," Fedotenko said. "Everyone is fighting for a playoff spot and we need these points."
The win moved the Islanders up to 12th in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Boston for the eighth and final postseason berth. New York won its final four games last season to reach the playoffs as the eighth seed.
"We saw the improbable last year when we were left for dead," goaltender Rick DiPietro said. "There's still a lot of hockey left."
Fedotenko has rediscovered his scoring touch, tallying four goals in four games after going nine without a goal. Mike Comrie also has been a key contributor with three goals and three assists in his past four games.
Miroslav Satan had two assists on Thursday, but has scored only one goal in his last 22 games. Satan, who has 11 goals, is in jeopardy of scoring fewer than 20 for the first time since he had a career-low 18 with Edmonton in 1995-96.
Captain Bill Guerin also has been quiet lately, scoring once in his last 11 games. His next goal will be his 20th of the season, making him only the second player in NHL history to reach that mark with six different teams.
New York last won three in a row from Dec. 21-26, the last two of those victories coming in overtime.
Already missing defensemen Chris Campoli (shoulder) and Bruno Gervais (strained oblique), the Islanders learned Thursday that Brendan Witt, their most physical player along the blueline, would be sidelined two to four weeks with an MCL sprain.
Atlanta (29-27-4) moved into a tie with Carolina for the Southeast Division lead Friday, rallying for a 4-3 shootout victory at New Jersey.
|Pascal Dupuis scored the deciding shootout goal against the Devils last night. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Marian Hossa scored with 18.1 seconds left in regulation and Pascal Dupuis had the decisive tally in the 10th round for the Thrashers, winners of three straight and six of eight.
"I'm happy I could help the team by scoring the tying goal but it wouldn't matter if it was me or somebody else," Hossa said. "We didn't quit and we got two points, which was huge."
Atlanta, which won a season high four in a row from Nov. 13-21, is 2-0-1 in its last three road games.
Ilya Kovalchuk's second-period goal Friday was his 40th of the season, the fourth straight year he's reached that mark. Kovalchuk is second in the NHL in goals, trailing Washington's Alexander Ovechkin (48).
Hossa - the subject of recent trade rumors - has five goals and five assists in his last eight games against the Islanders. Kovalchuk, meanwhile, has four goals in his last four contests versus them.
The Thrashers have won both meetings this season with New York, including a 4-0 victory at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 1.