Michael McLeod scored the tie-breaking goal late in the second period Thursday night for the visiting New Jersey Devils, who extended the New York Islanders’ ill-timed late-season skid with a 2-1 win in Uniondale, N.Y.
Pavel Zacha scored in the first and goalie MacKenzie Blackwood made 32 saves for the Devils (19-28-7, 45 points), who have won five of six following a 10-game losing streak.
Anthony Beauvillier scored in the second for the Islanders (31-17-6, 68 points), who spent most of the season battling for first place in the East Division. They have lost three straight to the East’s seventh- and eighth-place teams — the Buffalo Sabres swept a two-game series earlier this week — and have dropped six of eight overall (2-4-2) to ensure they cannot get home-ice for the first round of the playoffs and all but ensure they will not finish higher than fourth.
New York is three points behind the third-place Boston Bruins. The Islanders have two games left while the Bruins have three.
Goalie Semyon Varlamov recorded 23 saves.
A grinding effort led to Zacha’s goal late in the first. Nico Hischier and Scott Mayfield battled for the puck along the boards before Hischier spun free from Mayfield as the puck squirted to Jesper Bratt. The left winger sent a pass through Brock Nelson to Zacha, whose shot sailed beyond the extended stick of Nick Leddy and over Varlamov’s stick with 4:49 left.
The Islanders tied the score in quirky fashion following an end-to-end rush early in the second. Mayfield’s shot into the crease glanced off the skate of Beauvillier, who was racing to the net with Devils defenseman Connor Carrick, and past Blackwood at the 5:35 mark.
The Devils retook the lead almost exactly 10 minutes later. Varlamov, screened by Leddy and Nathan Bastian battling for position in front of the net, was slow to react when McLeod took a cross-ice pass from Damon Severson and fired a shot past Varlamov’s glove arm with 4:29 remaining.
The Islanders outshot the Devils 13-5 in the third but could not produce the equalizer. New York had two shots after pulling Varlamov with a little more than 90 seconds left.
–Field Level Media