With a little more than three weeks left in the lockout-shortened regular season, the New York Islanders are in an unexpected position - fighting for their first playoff berth since 2006-07.
The Islanders took another step toward the postseason Monday night as Frans Nielsen set up two early goals and Evgeni Nabokov made 24 saves in a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
It was the Islanders' fourth win in five games and kept them tied with the New York Rangers in the fight for the eighth and last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with 37 points, just two points behind the seventh-place Devils.
New Jersey and the Isles have 12 games remaining, one less than the Rangers, who beat Winnipeg 4-2 Monday.
''It's fun right now,'' said Nielsen, who set up goals by Josh Bailey and Travis Hamonic in the opening 7:14. ''Everybody is excited. We just go out there, play our game and play hard, and we're getting the results right now. We just have to keep it going. We have a big game tomo...