NEW YORK (AP) Semyon Varlamov had a season-high 41 saves for his third shutout of the season, and the New York Islanders beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 Saturday night, getting a crucial win in their playoff push.

Noah Dobson and Kyle Palmieri scored as the Islanders won their fourth straight to take a two-point lead over both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins hold the second wild card while the Flyers are out of a playoff position. New York and Pittsburgh have five games remaining, one more than Philadelphia.

“Some pucks I see, some pucks I didn’t,” Varlamov said. “Couple of times I thought I got lucky. Luck was definitely on my side today, which is good, I’ll take that any day.”

The 35-year-old Varlamov, who started four of the last six games, got his 41st career shutout and first since Nov. 2 against Washington.

“The crowd was going crazy,” Varlamov said. “It was a playoff atmosphere.”

The Islanders snapped a 10-game losing streak (0-8-2) against the Predators, dating back to Oct. 28, 2017.

“We haven’t had much success against that team over the past years,” Casey Cizikas said. “To come up with two points in the fashion that we did, playing hard, getting big kills, big saves from Varly when we needed it. That one means a lot.”

Kevin Lankinen finished with 28 saves as the Predators lost for the fourth time in five games.

“They defended their blue paint really well,” Predators coach Andrew Brunette said. “I thought we did a lot of good things, all through the ice, all through the game. Maybe a little bit sluggish early, but got going and couldn’t buy a goal late in the game.”

Dobson opened the scoring at 9:07 of the second period. Bo Horvat dug a puck out of the corner in the offensive zone as Cizikas screened Lankinen, and Dobson fired a wrist shot past Lankinen's glove for his 10th goal of the season and career-high 68th point. Mathew Barzal assisted on the play and extended his point streak to four games.

“We battled all night,” Dobson said. “I wouldn’t say it was our cleanest game, we turned a couple of pucks over. They had a pretty strong push in the third, but credit to the guys, especially on the (penalty) kill. Some big blocked shots, on some heavy shots. Guys paid the price and this time of year that’s what you need. You got to battle and find a way to gut those games out and win those close games.”

The Islanders' penalty kill and Varlamov fought off back-to-back penalties midway through the third period to preserve the one-goal edge and shutout.

“Sometimes your goalie has to be the best penalty killer and he was tonight, Palmieri said of Varlamov.

Palmieri added an empty-net goal with 1:19 to go.

The Islanders welcomed back former coach and current Predators general manager Barry Trotz for the first time since they parted ways after the 2021-22 season. Trotz joined the Isles after winning the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018. He coached the Islanders for four seasons which included two appearances in the Eastern Conference final.

“I think he's actually pretty proud of them,” Brunette said of Trotz's feelings about the Islanders blocking 33 shots and closing down the middle of the ice. “He will never say it but that's kind of a staple of a lot of his teams. They (Islanders) did a great job around their net tonight.”


Predators: At New Jersey on Sunday.

Islanders: Host the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.



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