By By Kerry Gwydir and Chris Botta
Alexei Ponikarovsky's goal with just 2:02 remaining in regulation was the game-winner as the Maple Leafs beat the Islanders 3-2 in Toronto tonight. As a result of the loss, the Islanders have been officially eliminated from the postseason. They will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
The Islanders went ahead 2-1 early in the third on a power play goal by Miroslav Satan, his 30th goal of the season and the Islanders' second man-up goal of the game. However, Darcy Tucker tied the game at 10:30 of the third with a power play goal, Tucker's second goal of the game.
After a scoreless first period, Alexei Yashin got the Islanders on the board early in the second period when he banged home a power play tally at the 2:28 mark. It was the captain's 26th of the season as he beat Toronto's Ben Ondrus to the rebound of a Jason Blake shot. Robert Nilsson started the play by finding Blake down low, who in turn, took the puck hard to the front of the Toronto cage.
But it was Tucker getting the equalizer at the 7:37 mark after the Islanders had failed to get off a shot on a 2-on-1 at the other end of the rink. After Mike York had his pass on the odd-man rush get blocked in the slot, Toronto defenseman Ian White immediately countered a found Kyle Wellwood barreling down the right wing. The Leaf forward then found Tucker unchecked in front of Garth Snow for his 25th of the season.
NOTES: Prior to the game, Allan Rourke was summoned up from Bridgeport as Joel Bouchard (knee) was out of the lineup. Eric Godard (concussion) was also sidelined...Kevin Colley joined the team at practice on Wednesday in Toronto and will travel with the team to Madison Square Garden. Colley will be at the Islanders team picture on Friday at the Coliseum...GM Mike Milbury flew the family of Steve Regier in from Western Canada for Regier's second NHL contest.
(10) Sean Bergenheim-(79) Alexei Yashin-(21) Robert Nilsson
(7) Trent Hunter-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(28) Wyatt Smith-(17) Shawn Bates
(48) Steve Regier-(27) Jeremy Colliton-(15) Jeff Tambellini
(38) Allan Rourke-(6) Bruno Gervais
(44) John Erskine-(3) Denis Grebeshkov
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(30) Garth Snow
(39) Rick DiPietro
(23) Alexei Ponikarovsky-(13) Mats Sundin-(80) Nik Antropov
(46) Ben Ondrus-(39) Clark Wilm-(28) Tie Domi
(10) Alex Steen-(14) Matt Stajan-(92) Jeff O'Neill
(18) Chad Kilger-(42) Kyle Wellwood-(16) Darcy Tucker
(15) Tomas Kaberle-(24) Bryan McCab
(8) Aki Berg-(3) Wade Belak
(22) Luke Richardson-(37) Ian White
(30) J-S Aubin
(32) Mikael Tellqvist