Flyers 4, Islanders 1

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) – Jeff Carter helped Philadelphia earn the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs Tuesday night, beating Garth Snow on a breakaway with 7:22 left in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders in the regular-season finale.

The Flyers, rebounding from a 5-1 loss in New Jersey on Sunday, entered the night in a three-way race with the New York Rangers and New Jersey for the Atlantic Division title and the third, fifth and sixth spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Rangers, who began the night with a one-point lead over the Flyers and Devils for the division title and the No. 3 spot, lost 5-1 at home to Ottawa to drop into the No. 6 slot. About 40 minutes after the Flyers and Rangers finished, the Devils rallied to beat Montreal 4-3 to take the division title.

Philadelphia and New Jersey each finished with 101 points, with the Devils winning the division title based on victories – 45 to 44. The Flyers will face Buffalo in the first round, while the Rangers will meet the Devils.

On the winning goal, Carter picked up the puck near the blue line, skated in alone on Snow and beat him with a backhander for his 23rd goal.

R.J. Umberger had a goal and an assist, Simon Gagne and Michal Handzus added empty-net goals, and Robert Esche made 31 saves for the Flyers, headed to playoffs for the 11th straight season. Gagne finished the season with 47 goals.

Defenseman Bruno Gervais scored for the Islanders, out of postseason play for the first time since 2000-01. New York finished 12th in the 15-team conference.

Peter Forsberg returned to Philadelphia’s lineup after missing five of the last six games because of a groin injury. The Flyers finished the regular season 35-16-9 with the star center in the lineup and 10-10-2 without him.

Gervais opened the scoring late in the first period, beating Esche with a slap shot from the right faceoff circle. He scored about 30 seconds after Carter hit the post on a partial breakaway. Carter also hit the crossbar earlier in the period.

After New York outshot Philadelphia 22-12 through two periods, Umberger tied it a minute into the third on the Flyers’ first shot of the period. Umberger controlled the puck along the end boards, easily made his way to edge of the crease and slipped a close-range shot past Snow for his 20th goal.

Esche started for Philadelphia after missing the team’s 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Saturday because of the flu and being benched Sunday after giving up three goals in the loss at New Jersey,

With the Islanders’ loss, interim coach Brad Shaw ended up 18-18-4 since taking over after Steve Stirling was fired Jan. 12. The Islanders, 6-1 losers in Pittsburgh on Monday night, finished the season 36-40-6.

Snow made 22 saves for the Islanders.

Notes: Islanders defenseman Cole Jarrett and left wing Masi Marjamaki made their NHL debuts. They were recalled earlier Tuesday from Bridgewater of the AHL. … The Flyers won the season series 6-2.

AP-ES-04-18-06 2214EDT

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