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Islanders 4, Flyers 1

The SportsXchange

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Michael Grabner's goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the New York Islanders continued their stellar play in pursuit of the franchise's first playoff berth in six seasons with a 4-1 victory Tuesday over the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum.

Matt Moulson, John Tavares and Casey Cizikas also scored for the Islanders, who put the game away with a Flyers' "own goal" and an empty netter in the final 90 seconds. Tavares got credit for the own goal, when Erik Gustafsson accidentally kicked the puck in with his skate before Cizikas' empty netter.

Chants of "We want playoffs!" rained down as time expired and the Islanders improved to 20-16-4, including 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

The win ensured the Islanders would remain in the top eight heading into Thursday's game at Boston. The Islanders ended the game in seventh place with 44 points, but would move into a tie for sixth if Ottawa lost to Tampa Bay.

The Islanders have finished in last place in the Atlantic Division each of the last five seasons, a stretch in which they have missed the playoffs by an average of 18 points per season.

With the win, the Islanders also damaged the Flyers' playoff hopes while snapping a three-year home losing streak against Philadelphia.

The Flyers (17-19-3), who lost their second straight following a four-game winning streak, haven't missed the playoffs since 2006-07 -- the last year the Islanders reached the postseason -- but remained five points out of eighth place with the loss.

The Islanders' win was their first at Nassau Coliseum over the Flyers since Apr. 1, 2010, a seven-game stretch in which the Islanders were 0-6-1.

Jakub Voracek scored in the first period for the Flyers while Steve Mason had 28 saves.

Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov had 26 saves.

A playoff atmosphere at Nassau Coliseum was enhanced by a spirited, bipartisan crowd of 13,888 that turned out on the warmest night of the year to cheer on teams whose playoff pursuits are rooted in different forms of desperation.

Dueling chants of "Let's go Islanders!" and "Let's go Flyers!" filled the arena. Fans of both teams roared their approval six minutes into the second, when Matt Martin and Brayden Schenn fought at center ice and drew five-minute penalties.

During a line shift late in the third, the Flyers' Matt Read shoved the Islanders' Casey Cizikas but drew no whistle.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said after Saturday night's 4-2 win over the Lightning that he wasn't scoreboard watching. The Islanders, though, encouraged it Tuesday: During a stoppage in play late in the second period, the scoreboard not only flashed other Eastern Conference scores but also each team's points and place in the playoff race.

The Flyers took a 1-0 lead 6:28 into the first when Voracek took a clearing pass from Claude Giroux and fired a shot past Nabokov. The play had to be reviewed because Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald crashed into Nabokov -- and knocked the goal clear into the boards -- just after the puck slid past him.

The Islanders tied it a little more than nine minutes later after a nifty coast-to-coast rush. As he was leveled into the boards, John Tavares cleared the puck to Brad Boyes, who controlled the puck as Kent Huskins, skating backward, tried poking it free. Moulson, skating alongside Boyes, broke free of Bruno Gervais just long enough to get open for the crossing pass, which he poked past Mason.

Grabner put the Islanders ahead with 2:18 left in the second when he took a pass from Colin McDonald and fired the shot past Mason, who was being shielded by one of his own defensemen.

NOTES: The Islanders scratched centers Marty Reasoner and Anders Lee, winger Eric Boulton and defenseman Radek Martinek while the Flyers scratched centers Zac Rinaldo and Maxime Talbot, defenseman Kurtis Foster and winger Tye McGinn. ... The nearest playoff "near-miss" for the Islanders over the last five years happened in 2009-10, when they finished nine points back of eighth place. They missed the playoffs by 15 points in 2007-08, 32 points in 2008-09, 20 points in 2010-11 and 13 points in 2011-12. ... The Islanders announced Tuesday they would play an exhibition game against the Devils at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sept. 21. It will be the first hockey game at Barclays. The Islanders will move to the Barclays Center no later than the start of the 2015-16 season. ... The last time a Peter Laviolette-coached team missed the playoffs was in 2007-08, when the Hurricanes finished in ninth place in the East, two points out of eighth. ... Entering Tuesday, the Flyers' only regulation losses to the Islanders in the last five seasons occurred Feb. 12, 2008 (4-3 at Nassau Coliseum), Apr. 1, 2010 (6-4 at Nassau Coliseum) and Jan. 19, 2012 (4-1 at Wells Fargo).
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