Red-hot Islanders’ task: ‘Keep building’ on momentum

The Islanders know they cannot slow down now.

And their confidence is at a high after a crushing 5-1 defeat of the Bruins on home ice Saturday night.

“We want to keep building,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “And we’re not done.”

Anders Lee (right) celebrates with Jean-Gabriel Pageau after scoring a goal in the Islanders’ 5-1 win over the Bruins. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

They can’t be.

The Flyers and Lightning — the two teams the Islanders are chasing in the playoff race — both won Saturday and hold leads of five and six points, respectively, over the Isles.

There are games in hand, but the Islanders have to win them — and then win some more.

But for the first time in a long time, that feels not just possible, but doable.

The win over Boston marked the Islanders’ first three-game win streak since mid-December and may have been their best all-Iaround performance of the season.

It is a frequent cliché in hockey to talk about confidence snowballing with wins. Now that is happening with the Islanders.

“It should,” Pageau said. “I think everyone had fun the last couple. Winning is fun and it’s contagious. We’re working hard. Everyone wants to win and wants to make that push. So everyone’s in.”

The Islanders made decisions with the puck quickly. They managed it to perfection. They forechecked, shut down chances and played fast hockey.

Kyle Palmieri celebrates after scoring one of his three goals in the Islanders' victory.
Kyle Palmieri celebrates after scoring one of his three goals in the Islanders’ victory. Robert Sabo for NY Post

That is what a confident team does. That is what the Islanders must continue doing.

“It’s big,” Kyle Palmieri said after scoring a natural hat trick in the first period. “We haven’t played our best at home recently. I think when you get those opportunities, especially down the stretch here, you gotta take advantage and you feel good about your home arena no matter who you’re playing. Tonight’s a good start towards that. Hopefully, we continue to build on that.”

Never for a moment have the Islanders stopped believing in themselves.

But beating the Bruins — and doing so as emphatically as they did Saturday — is a good way to make believers of those who are not paid by the organization.

For those who are, it is more like confirmation.

“I don’t think the belief level’s changed,” Anders Lee said. “I think maybe you start to feel a little confidence. You start to feel that momentum. You feel good about the results that we’re getting. That feels good and that adds to the energy in here. … You build off that and continue to roll.”

Matt Martin left the game at 4:55 of the third period with an unspecified injury and did not return.

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