Islanders come back to defeat Blackhawks 2-1, move 1 point within playoff spot

Islanders Blackhawks Holmstrom goal
Simon Holmstrom celebrates his game-winning goal. (Kevin Kane/KK Images)

ELMONT, N.Y. — Bo Horvat and Simon Holmstrom scored in the first 9:25 of the third period to overturn a one-goal deficit and keep the New York Islanders’ playoff hopes intact on Tuesday night in a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at UBS Arena. 

“I was very proud of the way we came out [in the third period],” head coach Patrick Roy said. “We had a lot of chances at the beginning of the game but we could not score. We didn’t change our game. We played the same way.”

With the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers off on Tuesday night and the Washington Capitals losing 6-2 to the Buffalo Sabres, the Islanders (33-27-15, 81 points) now sit one point back of a playoff spot having both legs of a back-to-back for the first time this season. They defeated the Flyers 4-3 in overtime on Monday night.

“[The win] definitely helps us but we have a lot of work to do here,” Horvat said. “We’re chasing and we have to keep winning hockey games here in order to get in.”

The Islanders were forced to play from behind when Jason Dickinson tapped home a centering feed from Bedard on a 2-on-1 break 7:49 into the game past Ilya Sorokin, who made 18 saves on the night and with it, snapped a personal six-game losing skid.

Chicago’s opportunity stemmed from a Noah Dobson turnover in the Blackhawks’ zone on the left boards — Philipp Kurashev springing the outlet pass to Chicago’s star rookie while the hosts were caught puck-watching the breakout. 

Despite the perceived desperation of staying in the playoff race, the Islanders’ attack lacked any sort of bite over the first 40 minutes. While they outshot the Blackhawks 26-14 over the first two periods, the Islanders allowed 11 high-danger chances compared to their eight.

“It seemed like we were throwing everything at them,” Horvat began. “It was just a matter of time before it was going to go in. but sometimes in these kinds of games, it’s like you don’t feel like you’re ever gonna score.”

Bo Horvat Islanders
Photo: Kevin Kane/KK Images

A holding penalty on Kurashev 10 seconds into the third period injected some life into the Islanders, who found an equalizer at the 1:33 mark of the frame when Horvat one-timed a feed from Barzal — who delayed his move and sent a pinpoint backhand feed — in the right circle for his 31st goal of the season.

“It was a big goal,” Horvat said. “I told him on the bench that I can’t believe you opted to go to his backhand there. I was hoping he was gonna give it to me earlier and then he had to outwait everybody. Thankfully, I stayed in the right spot and just had to put it in.”

With 10:35 to go, Holmstrom put the Islanders ahead when he batted a bouncing puck from the doorstep under the blocker-side arm of Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek. It was a triumphant return for the Swedish forward after having been a healthy scratch in the previous two games.

“I want him to earn it,” Roy said of Holmstrom. “And that’s what he did. He scored a big goal for us.”

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com