The Upshot: The NY Islanders Clinch Playoff Spot in Win Over New Jersey Devils

Apr 15, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) celebrates
Apr 15, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New York Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) celebrates / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

With a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, the NY Islanders have clinched third in the metro and a trip to the playoffs in game 81 of the season. It only took two coaches, 81 games and 16 loser points, but they ask how not how many.


The Isles came out hot to start the game, knowing that their playoff chances were dependent on a win tonight. They wanted to write their own destiny, not be backed into a spot. The Isles went the first 10 minutes of the first period without a shot on net, but that didn't matter because the JG Pageau scored on the team's first shot of the game. Pierre Engvall utilized his speed to get Pager the puck, who wasted no time getting it past Jake Allen. With the Devils taking the first penalty of the game, the Islanders new power play setup was ready for their first test. Simplicity does it best, Mike Riley wristed a shot towards the net, and Kyle Palmieri tipped it home for a 2-0 win and a power play goal. The Islanders came out with more intensity to start the second, but the Devils were able to get within one thanks to Timo Meier. That seemed to be the Devil's only real chance of the night, with Semyon Varlamov solid in net and the Islanders playing their best defense of the season. Despite being up 2-1, the Islanders were being outshot 15-7 midway through the second period. Brock Nelson scored his 33rd goal of the season as his line alongside Palmieri and Hudson Fasching continue to stay hot.

The Islanders headed into the most crucial 3rd period of the season up 3-1 and one mission in mind, play a full, strong 20 minutes. After a strong penalty kill by the Isles, Anders Lee got the puck to hometown hero Kyle MacLean who taps the puck past Allen for the 4-1 lead. The Islanders were able to hold the Devils off, never allowing them to get hit double-digits in shots during the game. After 60 solid minutes of hockey, every player in white seemed to let out a sigh of relief as the clock wound down. For the second straight season the Islanders clinched a playoff spot, and they only ask how, not how many.


A lot went right for the Islanders tonight, which is especially promising considering everything needed to go right tonight. The special teams both had great games, killing off all three Devils power plays. The Isles own power play unit went 1/1 with the goal from Palmieri. Special teams stepping up is especially promosing considering that they were the Isles downfall just a year ago in the playoffs. After some rearranging of the power play at practice this week, hopefully special teams head into game 82 and the playoffs with a new found confidence.

The Islanders also had much better breakouts than we've seen all season. Everyone seemed to know exactly where to be, and passes were kept smart and simple as they exited the zone. They were also much stronger on zone entries tonight, making sure not to take the extra pass unless absolutely necessary.

Robert Bortuzzo should get MVP on the night, playing what was definitely his best game of the season. He blocked some huge shots and laid his body on the line tonight.


Tonight definitely wasn't the prettiest or cleanest win of the Islanders season. They need to focus on getting more shots off and sustained offensive zone time come playoffs. They also need to take one less penalty in the future, staying clean and smart. But, with all that said, tonight was a solid win for the Islanders and we should just be happy for the night, and focus on the playoffs tomorrow.


  • On March 28th, the Islanders had only a 4% chance of making the playoffs, in just two weeks they were able to turn that around.
  • This is the fifth time in six seasons that the Islanders have made it to the NHL Playoffs
  • If Kyle Palmieri scored goal number 30 on Wednesday, it will be the first time in 30 years that the Islanders have three 30-goal scorers.


The Islanders will face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first game of the season that doesn't matter. Puck drop is at 7pm at UBS Arena as they look to split the season series.