The New York Islanders on Sunday used a smothering defense and some timely scoring to move closer to a playoff berth.
Jordan Eberle and Brock Nelson scored to back Robin Lehner’s fifth shutout of the season as the Islanders beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-0.
Lehner stopped 31 shots to help the Islanders win for the second time in two days and keep pace with first-placed Washington in the Metropolitan Division.
Photo: Brad Penner-USA Today
The Capitals, who defeated Philadelphia 3-1 earlier on Sunday, lead New York by one point with six games remaining for both teams, including a matchup in Washington in the season finale.
“Those are dangerous hockey games. We had chances to pull away and they hung around,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We got it done.”
Starting for the second straight day, Lehner made nine saves in the first period, and 11 each in the second and third to improve to 22-12-5 this season.
The Islanders, who beat the Flyers 4-2 on Saturday, improved to 11-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. The Islanders also lead the NHL with 10 shutouts.
“I feel like the majority of games we’ve won, we’ve gone into the third period 1-0, 2-1, low scores,” said Lehner, who signed with the Islanders as free agent last year.
“When we are playing our game, we have confidence. We play hard, wait for them to make mistakes and try to capitalize on it,” he said.
Darcy Kuemper finished with 24 saves as the Coyotes lost their fifth straight (0-3-2) and finished 0-3-1 on a four-game trip.
Arizona have not won since March 14 against Anaheim at home, where they are to play four of their final six games as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Kuemper kept the Coyotes in the game with a series of excellent saves in the second period.
“That was a good defensive game. I thought we had good possession,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said.
“We are just having a tough time scoring right now,” he added.
Also on Sunday, it was:
‧ Blackhawks 2, Avalanche 1, OT
‧ Hurricanes 2, Canadiens 1, OT
‧ Blue Jackets 5, Canucks 0
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