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New York at Toronto

Islanders use potent power play to get by Maple Leafs

CBSSports.com wire reports
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TORONTO -- After a seven-game winless slide damaged their playoff hopes, the New York Islanders are once again counting on a late-season run to get back to the postseason.

"We saw the improbable last year when we were left for dead," goalie Rick DiPietro said after the Islanders slipped past the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Thursday night. "There's still a lot of hockey left."

The Isles won their last four games of last season to sneak into the playoffs and are hoping to do the same with 24 games left in the regular season.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored two of his team's four power-play goals and the Islanders pulled within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"This is a big win for us," Fedotenko said. "Everyone is fighting for a playoff spot and we need these points."

Mike Comrie and Bryan Berard also had power-play goals while Freddy Meyer added an empty-netter for the Islanders, who have won their past two games following a seven-game winless streak.

"There's still belief in this room," Comrie said. "Ted (Nolan) and the coaching staff have us focused on the game at hand. We're not looking too far ahead."

Alexei Ponikarovsky, Matt Stajan, Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker scored for the Leafs, who dropped to 29th overall in the 30-team NHL after Tampa Bay beat Philadelphia on Thursday night.

The Leafs are eight points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 23 games to play in the regular season and have five games left before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

"Basically, that's what's going on right now," Ponikarovsky said. "But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We still have to play. You can't just give up and do nothing."

Rick DiPietro made 27 saves for the Islanders while Vesa Toskala stopped 24 of 28 shots.

"We should've won that hockey game, but we didn't play well," Stajan said. "We can't come in here and say we played as well as we could, because we didn't."

Berard opened the scoring on a power play with 3:48 to go in the first period, busting into the slot and redirecting a Miroslav Satan pass past Toskala.

Tucker got credit for the tying goal at 7:51 of the second period. Stajan's pass toward the slot deflected off both Tucker and Isles defenseman Aaron Johnson and skidded between DiPietro's legs.

Sundin later slid in a rebound to give Toronto its only lead of the game.

But then the Isles' power play went to work as the Leafs took three consecutive penalties, Fedotenko tied it at 2 at 14:36 when he banged in a puck that was sitting on the goal line after Josef Vasicek hit the post.

Comrie, with his 17th of the season, put the Isles back in front 3-2 with a power-play goal at 17:25 when he took Satan's nifty pass across the slot and slid it an inch past the goal line under Toskala.

The Isles took a 4-2 lead 4:29 into the third period when Fedotenko scored a nearly identical goal to his first one of the game, banging home a puck in the crease behind Toskala on yet another New York man advantage.

The Leafs rallied. Stajan scored his team's third goal on a Toronto power play at 10:16. The Leafs had a chance to tie it on a two-man advantage just moments later, but couldn't deliver the tying goal.

Meyer, with his first goal of the season, scored in the empty net with 51.5 seconds to make it 5-3. Then Ponikarovsky pounced on a rebound in the slot with 18.3 seconds left to cut the lead to one goal again.

Toronto went 1-for-5 with the man advantage while the Islanders went 4-for-7.

Notes

  • The Islanders improved to 18-0-1 on the season when leading after two periods.
  • Forward Kyle Wellwood, defenseman Ian White and Wade Belak were healthy scratches for Toronto.
  • The Isles found out before the game that veteran defenseman Brendan Witt is out two to four weeks with an MCL sprain.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Rick DiPietro denies Mats Sundin and makes 26 other saves to help the Isles win in Toronto.  (Getty Images)
Rick DiPietro denies Mats Sundin and makes 26 other saves to help the Isles win in Toronto. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
NY Islanders  (26-25-7) «1225
Toronto (23-26-9)0224
Three Stars
B. Berard
NYI


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
R. Fedotenko
NYI


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
M. Stajan
TOR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
16:12Power Play - Bryan Berard (5), Slap Shot. Assist: Miroslav Satan, Mike Comrie
2ND PERIOD
07:51Darcy Tucker (10), Slap Shot. Assist: Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen
09:21Mats Sundin (24), Slap Shot. Assist: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tomas Kaberle
14:36Power Play - Ruslan Fedotenko (11), Slap Shot. Assist: Josef Vasicek, Aaron Johnson
17:25Power Play - Mike Comrie (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Miroslav Satan, Bryan Berard
3RD PERIOD
04:29Power Play - Ruslan Fedotenko (12), Slap Shot. Assist: Bryan Berard, Josef Vasicek
10:16Power Play - Matt Stajan (13), Slap Shot. Assist: Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle
19:08Freddy Meyer (1), Empty Net, Unassisted.
19:41Alexei Ponikarovsky (14), Slap Shot. Assist: Jason Blake, Nik Antropov
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
59.0Johnson, 2 min, Hooking
03:35Gill, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
15:57Sundin, 2 min, Interference
19:44Kubina, 2 min, Slashing
2ND PERIOD
12:50McCabe, 2 min, Hooking
16:42Moore, 2 min, High-Sticking
19:44McCabe, 2 min, Tripping
3RD PERIOD
03:34McCabe, 2 min, High-Sticking
09:07Meyer, 2 min, High-Sticking
10:37Berard, 2 min, High-Sticking
11:29Martinek, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
14:17Berard, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
Shots On Goal
 123T
New York814729
Toronto671831
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Rick DiPietro59:24274
Vesa Toskala58:54244
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
Islanders4-for-8
Maple Leafs1-for-2
Game Information
Attendance - 19227
Referees - Dave Jackson, Dan O'Rourke
Linesmen - Steve Barton, Dan Schachte
 
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