Islanders grab playoff spot with shootout win
Wade Dubielewiczdenied two of three shootout attempts and Viktor Kozlov scored the winner as the New York Islanders recovered from a late-game collapse todefeat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 andseize the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The victory gave the Islanders 92 points on the season, one more than the Toronto Maple Leafs, who had leapfrogged into eighth place with a thrilling 6-5 win over the Montreal Canadiens in the teams' season finale on Saturday night.
But the Islanders took advantage of their game in hand on the Leafs, narrowly escaping with avictory over a Devils team that had nothing to play for, having already wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the East.
The Leafs couldn't have been happy with New Jersey's choice for a starting goalie. Backup Scott Clemmensen got a rare nod from coach Lou Lamoriello inplaceof all-star Martin Brodeur.
Making just his sixth appearance of the season, Clemmensen stopped 25 shots in regulation and overtime, but allowed shootout goals to Miroslav Satan and Kozlov before Ryan Smyth fired wide with a potential game-winning attempt.
Zach Parise scored with the Devils' first shootout try, but Dubielewicz poked the puck from Brian Gionta and Sergei Brylinto sealthe win for New York.
Playoff matchups set
Dubielewicz, who took over the Islanders starting job after a late-season head injury to Rick DiPietro, made 20 saves in regulation and another two in overtime to win his fourth straight decision in what was just his 17th NHL appearance.
Dubielewicz's steady work had the Islanders up 2-0 with under five minutes remaining in the third periodon a pair of goals by Richard Park — the winger's ninth and 10th of the season.
But John Madden cut the deficit to one with 4:13 left, then banged a goalmouth rebound past a sprawling Dubielewicz with less than a second remaining on the clock to the send the game into overtime.
After coming through in the shootout, the Islanders will travel to Buffalo for Game 1 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. The Sabres wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy with the league's best record when they beat the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
New Jersey will open at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Here's how the rest of the first-round matchups shape up, withthe higher-seeded teamshosting the opening games eitherWednesday or Thursday.
In the Eastern Conference:
- No. 3 Atlantavs. No. 6 New York Rangers.
- No. 4 Ottawavs. No. 5 Pittsburgh.
In the Western Conference:
- No. 1 Detroit vs. No. 8 Calgary.
- No. 2 Anaheim vs. No. 7 Minnesota.
- No. 3 Vancouver vs. No. 6 Dallas.
- No. 4 Nashville vs. No. 5 San Jose.