CHICAGO (AP)—The New York Islanders are close to clinching their second straight postseason berth. They already look like a team that’s ready for the playoffs.
Alexei Yashin scored four goals, and five New York teammates also scored as the Islanders routed the Chicago Blackhawks 9-2 Tuesday night. Mark Parrish, Justin Papineau, Oleg Kvasha, Dave Scatchard and Arron Asham also scored for New York, which got its fourth win in seven games.
After struggling for most of the season, Yashin has turned his game up a notch recently. He notched the first four-goal game of his career after tallying two goals and four assists in the last two games.
Yashin emphasized group play and the united goal of making the postseason.
“We got a great team performance,” Yashin said. “Things happen like that. It’s never happened to me. I never scored four goals in one game. It’s nice, but my linemates have been playing very good. Asham and Ollie, they’ve been dominating and creating a lot of chances for me.
“It’s more important that we got the win,” Yashin said. “We’re being chased by the Rangers, and Montreal lost today, but we didn’t clinch the playoffs yet and the next six games are going to be important.”
The Islanders lead the New York Rangers by six points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have six games remaining, including a head-to-head contest at Nassau Coliseum on April 1.
The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have all but folded in the last two months and have six losses in their last 10 games.
“I think the difference is that we are trying to solidify out playoff spot,” New York coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re not there yet. I didn’t see an `X’ next to our name this morning when I looked in the paper, so I know we’re not there yet. We got to keep putting wins in the column until we do that.”
New York jumped out to a three-goal lead in the first 6:37, and entered the first intermission up 4-0.
“Our guys were ready to play when the puck dropped,” Laviolette said. “Chicago is going through some tough times right now. I think we were desperate to win the hockey game tonight.”
The lone bright spot for Chicago was rookie Igor Radulov. Making his second NHL appearance, Radulov scored his first two goals for Chicago.
“I try to play hard at this level,” Radulov said. “ 1/8 Scoring 3/8 some goals will make me try harder. I’ll go to the net and pick up the garbage.”
Parrish opened the scoring at 1:17 of the first. He took a pass from Papineau, drove to the net and slipped a backhander under rookie goalie Craig Andersson.
Yashin put the Islanders up 2-0 just 47 seconds later. Kvasha found Yashin undefended at the edge of the crease for the one-timed goal.
Papineau converted a 3-on-1 breakaway at 6:37 of the first to give the Islanders a three-goal lead.
The Islanders built a four-goal lead on Yashin’s 20th goal, a power-play score, with 39 seconds left in the first.
Kvasha’s goal at 3:29 of the second chased Andersson, who has allowed five goals and been pulled in two of his three starts. Yashin tapped in a rebound of Kvasha’s breakaway shot for his third goal at 2:14 of the third. He scored his fourth goal on a bad angle at 2:26 of the third.
Scatchard scored the Islanders’ third goal in 36 seconds at 2:50 of the third. He notched his team-leading 26th goal off Jason Blake’s rebound.
Asham’s power-play goal at 13:09 of the third finished the scoring.
Radulov put Chicago on the board at 7:38 of the second. He scored again 13seconds later.
The Islanders’ last victory against Chicago was January 25, 1997, in New York. … Yashin has scored 20 or more goals seven times in his career. … Chicago chose Radulov in the third round, 74th overall, in the 2000 NHL draft. … The line of Parrish, Michael Peca and Papineau had two goals and five assists. … Chicago lost 8-1 at Colorado on Saturday in Andersson’s first startThe victory marked the first time the Islanders won at Chicago sinceOctober 7, 1990.