The New York Islanders have a simple immediate plan: get two more points and head back East.
The team is currently on a three-game trip to California, and while dropping the opener to the Kings on Tuesday was a disappointment, a 2-1-0 mark out West would be in line with expectations and avoid a disastrous loss to the bottom-feeding Ducks or Sharks.
The Islanders secured a 6-3 victory against the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday, so now they just have to face the Sharks on Saturday.
The Islanders previously beat the Sharks 5-2 in their first meeting in October, so they are hoping to replicate that success.
Brock Nelson commented on the importance of the win against the Ducks, saying that it was nice to bounce back after some recent not-great results.
The Islanders had won six of eight after Mathew Barzal’s injury, but then lost two games in a row in regulation for the first time since late January against the Capitals and Kings.
This made the difference between the Islanders controlling their own destiny or not, at least for the moment, in a playoff race that has been on a knife’s edge for the better part of three months.
Going into Thursday’s set of games, the Islanders had a five-point lead on Florida, but the Panthers had three games in hand.
With only 12 games left on the Islanders’ regular-season slate, the margin for error is razor-thin.
The Islanders can’t afford to lose to a team like San Jose, which is very much in the race to tank for likely eventual No. 1 pick Connor Bedard with a 19-36-13 record going into play Thursday.
The Islanders have had a tendency to struggle in games like this all year, with two losses to Arizona, two to Nashville, a home loss to St. Louis, and an overtime loss in Montreal contributing to their precarious playoff position.
However, there’s no point in crying over spilled milk at this point.
Coach Lane Lambert praised the team’s effort in their recent games, and the Islanders are hoping to secure their much-needed two points against the Sharks on Saturday before heading back East.
»Islanders Look to Finish West Coast Trip Strong Against Sharks«
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