If the New York Islanders want to make the playoffs, they have to beat the teams in front of them in the standings.
One of those teams is the Montreal Canadiens.
New York and Montreal meet for the third time this season in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup at Nassau Coliseum.
In 12th place in the conference with 66 points, the Islanders are seven points behind the Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot with 15 games remaining.
Montreal, which defeated the Isles 4-3 on Oct. 22 and 5-3 on Feb. 28, hasn’t beaten New York three consecutive times in one season since it swept a four-game season series in 1996-97.
The teams meet for the final time this season next Tuesday in Montreal.
The Islanders dropped the final three contests on a five-game road trip, following a season-high four-game winning streak.
Rick DiPietro made 32 saves, but allowed three third-period goals and lost his third straight start.
“It’s a tough loss,” DiPietro said. “Games this big you can’t afford to drop like that in the third period. We did it again and we’re just putting ourselves further and further behind the 8-ball.
“We had a chance to win it. We’ve got to play harder, (with) more desperation. We needed those two points badly and we didn’t get them.”
DiPietro is 1-3-0 with a 3.01 goals-against average in his career versus Montreal.
The Canadiens snapped a three-game losing skid with a 4-2 victory at Washington on Monday. More importantly, the win kept Montreal one point ahead of Atlanta for the eighth playoff spot.
All 15 of Montreal’s remaining games are against Eastern Conference opponents, and 10 of them are at home, where the Canadiens are 17-10-4.
Komisarek, who entered with just one assist this season in 55 games, beat Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig at 5:47 of the first.
“It was definitely a good feeling,” Komisarek said. “I was thrilled. I didn’t know that it had gone in. I was just in shock.”