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Islanders 4, Devils 2: Halak and Lee lead Isles to stay in race (until Penguins lose)

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Now they wait to see if the Penguins can hold the Leafs to only a point. (Update: They can’t.)

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
Halak it. Halak it a lot.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In another must-win game, the Islanders needed to continue the stellar play they had in Carolina Thursday night. Most of the skaters in this patchwork roster did not, but Jaroslav Halak did, as did Anders Lee, and the Islanders got the regulation win they needed to maximize their chance. Now they wait. Again.

Update: The Penguins had a third-period lead, but they blew it in Toronto. A Maple Leafs regulation win means Toronto is in and the Isles are missing the 2016-17 playoffs.

(Extra fun: Rick DiPietro wearing a backwards Tim Tebow Mets jersey for good luck under his salmon - or coral? - blazer.)

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period

Aside from an unconverted breakaway for Jason Chimera in the first minute of the game, the Devils controlled the period by a fair margin. Jaroslav Halak, playing in his fifth straight game and fourth straight start, kept New Jersey scoreless on 14 shots, including a few fantastic chances for Taylor Hall.

The Islanders were graced with two power plays, the second of which was painful - the only real chance for the entire two minutes was for Hall.

Second Period

They continued their rotten play to start the period, but nearly three minutes in, Nikolay Kulemin set up a nice play off the rush to feed Pelech sneaking in behind it, scoring a goal uncontested by Devils’ defenders.

The goal seemed to finally wake them up a bit, getting them to the point of trading chances. The Devils took a penalty on an offensive chance that wasn’t scored on, but the sustained pressure in the Devils zone continued after the man advantage expired and Anders Lee scored on a tip-in.

Third Period

After the Devils rang one off the post, the puck went the other way for a pretty 2-on-1 - Quine’s backhand spin-o-rama pass was punctuated by Chimera’s finish. 68 seconds later, however, Halak’s five-period shutout streak was ended when he inadvertently kicked the puck that was sitting behind him in his net.

Miles Wood’s penalty gave the Islanders a power play on which they regained their three-goal lead. Josh Bailey found Lee wide-open down low and his backhand beat Farmingville native Keith Kinkaid getting over. Dalton Prout tipped the puck past Halak with 2.2 seconds left, but it only affected the score sheet.

What’s Next

As of this writing, the Maple Leafs are tied with the Penguins 2-2 late in the second period. Infamous douche Tom Sestito gave Frederik Andersen a hip to the noggin, knocking him out of the game to be replaced by Curtis McElhinney.

If the Leafs get one or zero points, the Islanders remain in tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

UPDATE: Alas. It’s over.