NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Palmieri had two goals and an assist, Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves and the New York Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 on Monday night.
Pierre Engvall, Bo Horvat and Zach Parise also scored for the Islanders, who stopped a two-game losing streak and moved three points ahead of Pittsburgh for the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.
“They are fighting for first and we are fighting to get into the playoffs,'' said Parise, 38, a former Devils player who scored the 429th goal of this career. ”That was a good fast-paced game."
Eric Haula scored for the Devils and Vitek Vanecek finished with 31 saves. New Jersey, which clinched a playoff spot with a win against Ottawa on Saturday, remained three points behind first-place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division.
“We knew coming into this game they were fighting for a playoff spot. They were desperate,'' Devils forward Timo Meier said. “They won more battles, they were harder on pucks and that’s what lost us the game.”
Palmieri lifted a backhander past Vanecek with 5:38 left in the middle period to snap a 1-1 tie then scored an insurance goal with 4:35 left in the third, his 15th of the season.
“It was a long time to have the puck on the backhand,'' Palmeri said. ”I found some space."
After making 16 saves through the first two periods, Sorokin stopped all 14 shots he faced in the third to improve to 27-19-7.
Palmieri's second of the night made it 3-1, and Horvat and Parise had empty-netters in the final 62 seconds to seal the win. Parise's goal was shorthanded and his 21st of the season. Palmieri, also an ex-Devils player, has five goals in his last six games.
“He has injected an element of offense into our group,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “He’s been rewarded for it.”
The Islanders improved to 16-5-0 in their last 21 games against the Devils, including 8-3-0 at home.
New York also won a game following a shutout loss for the third time in five tries this season. The Islanders fell to Buffalo 2-0 last Saturday at home.
“I thought we stayed on top as best we could,'' Lambert added. ”That was a fast team we were playing."
Engvall put New York ahead at 7:37 of the first. Palmieri skated in alone on Vanecek who made an initial save but Engvall knocked in the rebound for his 16th goal of the season - fourth since being acquired from Toronto on Feb. 28.
“I feel pretty good,'' Engvall said. ”We're coming together."
Haula tied it with an unassisted short-handed goal at 6:15 of the second, his ninth.
NOTES: The Islanders have outscored opponents 30-9 in the third period in their last 18 games. ... The Islanders scratched forwards Josh Bailey and Ross Johnson, and defensemen Sebastian Aho and Parker Wotherspoon. ... The Devils scratched forwards Nathan Bastian, Curtis Lazar, Jesper Boqvist and Nolan Foote.
Devils: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Islanders: At Washington on Wednesday night.
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