UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Frans Nielsen scored a power-play goal in the final half-minute of the third period Tuesday night to give the streaking New York Islanders the lead for good in a 5-2 win over the reeling Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum.
With the win -- their fifth in the past six games -- the Islanders (18-16-3) broke a tie with the idle New York Rangers for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, moving into a tie with the idle New Jersey Devils for seventh. The Islanders have not made the playoffs since the 2006-07 season.
Anders Lee, who was making his NHL debut; Colin McDonald, Matt Moulson and John Tavares also scored for the Islanders, who improved to 7-11-2 at home. Kevin Poulin made 23 saves, and he became the first Islanders goaltender other than starter Evgeni Nabokov to win a game this year.
Paul Postma scored both goals for the Jets, who suffered their fourth straight loss. took another hit with a fourth straight loss. Winnipeg (18-18-2) saw its Southeast Division lead trimmed to two points.
The Jets/Atlanta Thrashers made the only postseason appearance in the team's 13-season history after winning the Southeast Division in 2006-07.
The Jets are also trying to become the first Winnipeg-based NHL team to win a division title. The Jets, who joined the NHL during the WHA/NHL merger in 1979, never won a division title in 17 seasons before moving to Phoenix and becoming the Coyotes in 1996.
Goalie Ondrej Pavelec had 34 saves for the Jets.
Lee put the Islanders on the board and elicited a roar from the crowd of 11,819 with a spectacular goal on his first NHL shot. Lee was double-teamed along the boards on the left side of the ice and briefly lost his balance. However, he retained it and fired a slap shot from just beyond the left faceoff circle past Pavelec.
Even Lee -- whom the Islanders drafted out of Notre Dame in 2009 but didn't sign until Monday -- seemed surprised by the swiftness of his score. He hesitated for a moment before celebrating, after which he slapped hands with everyone on the Islanders bench and hugged Poulin.
It didn't take long for Lee to experience the other side of life in the NHL, though. Less than two minutes later, Postma beat Lee to a loose puck in front of the Islanders' net and shot it past Poulin.
Postma extended the Jets' lead to 2-1 a little more than six minutes into the second when he took a crossing pass from Chris Thorburn -- who was trailing Lee and Eric Tangradi as they tangled for the puck -- and beat Poulin from the right side of the goalmouth.
The Islanders tied and took the lead on rebound goals later in the second. McDonald's wrister pulled the Islanders even at 9:56 before Nielsen's power play goal with 28 seconds left put New York ahead.
Moulson provided insurance with exactly two minutes left in the third when he took a crossing pass from Tavares and beat Pavelec to complete a 2-on-1. Tavares' empty-netter with 36 seconds left capped the scoring.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched winger Eric Boulton, defenseman Radek Martinek and center Marty Reasoner while the Jets scratched defensemen Grant Clitsome, Derek Meech and Arturs Kulda. ... During their first incarnation in Winnipeg, the Jets finished as high as second in a division just twice -- in 1981-82 (Norris Division) and 1984-85 (Smythe Division). ... Current Jets backup goalie Al Montoya was the last goalie other than Nabokov to win a game for the Islanders when he beat, coincidentally, the Jets on April 5, 2012. ... The Jets, who entered Tuesday as the only team in playoff position with a losing record at home (8-9-0), complete a three-game road trip at Montreal on Thursday before embarking upon a season-high six-game homestand from Apr. 6-20. ... The only teams in the NHL with longer playoff droughts than the Jets and Islanders are Toronto (last made playoffs in 2003-04) and Edmonton (last made playoffs in 2005-06).