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Islanders tame Wild

New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- In March, the key phrase in sports is "survive and advance." The Islanders are starting to understand what that means.

The Islanders were patient against Jacques Lemaire's Minnesota Wild on Saturday, just long enough to escape with a 2-1 victory at a sold-out Nassau Coliseum.

"They play such a boring, slow game. It just kills you," Isles defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "They basically try to put you to sleep. . . . But I thought we showed tremendous poise."

Combined with the Devils' 4-2 loss to Carolina, which drew a huge ovation when flashed on the scoreboard late in the third period, the Isles (34-25-7-4) moved into sole possession of sixth position in the East with 79 points.

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And with a chance on Monday to bury the Rangers' playoff dreams, the Isles will put tickets for their first possible playoff appearance since 1994 on sale next Saturday.

"I noticed (the Devils' score)," coach Peter Laviolette said, "but I wasn't going to drag our attention from the task at hand."

It had been a typical Lemaire muck-and-mire game from the first drop of the puck. Chris Osgood (28 saves) and Minnesota's Manny Fernandez dueled in a scoreless tie until a late lack of discipline by the stingy Wild.

After defenseman Jason Marshall was whistled for interfering with Jason Blake at 7:42 of the third, Marshall flung his stick and received an additional minor penalty. Seventeen seconds later, Willie Mitchell was flagged for cross-checking Mariusz Czerkawski, setting up 104 seconds of 5-on-3 time for the Isles.

"It was just a very frustrating game, but we showed a lot of character," said New York's Mark Parrish, who scored his 28th goal this season with 4:07 remaining. "It's one of those games you just have to figure out a way to win."

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