Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the Islanders skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins...

Cal Clutterbuck #15 of the Islanders skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins at UBS Arena on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 in Elmont. Credit: Jim McIsaac

For the first and only time in two seasons, the Islanders played a game that had absolutely no playoff implications. The hitting and defense were softer, the chances plentiful both ways.

So the playoff-bound Islanders concluded their regular season with an entertaining 5-4 win against the eliminated Penguins on Wednesday night at UBS Arena, finishing on a season-high 8-0-1 point streak. But they were already locked into third place in the Metropolitan Division and a first-round rematch with the second-place Hurricanes that will open in Carolina on Saturday.

“We’re just trying here to get revenge on Carolina,” said Simon Holmstrom, who lifted a third-period winner at 14:27, of the Hurricanes’ six-game win in the first round last season.

But Game 82 was not meaningless for the Islanders (39-27-16). Cal Clutterbuck, Kyle Palmieri, Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all dressed for the 82nd time and Palmieri notched a second-period power-play one-timer to match his career high with 30 goals.

“Guys were looking for me tonight so it was nice to get it and move on,” said Palmieri, who also scored 30 goals for the Devils in 2015-16. “We’re looking forward to getting going here in the playoffs.”

Plus forward Ruslan Iskhakov, a second-round pick in 2018 recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport earlier in the day, made his NHL debut with a secondary assist on defenseman Samuel Bolduc’s third-period power-play goal.

“It was a great experience,” Iskhakov said. “I’m glad that we won. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to give some boost for the guys for the first game in Carolina.”

There is some playoff concern, though, as Pageau played just four shifts before exiting the bench at 10:42 of the first period, leaving the Islanders to play the bulk of the match with 10 forwards after coach Patrick Roy dressed seven defensemen.

Roy did not have an immediate update on Pageau.

Nelson reached 82 games for the fifth time in his career, Pageau for the third time and Palmieri for the second time.

But it was the first time for Clutterbuck, 36, the NHL’s all-time hits leader with 4,029. His previous high was 78 games in his rookie season with the Wild in 2008-09.

“It’s nice to be able to get through a year without any major issues,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s a lot of games. It’s just nice to be able to get a chance to be in the lineup and contribute every night. I’ve watched enough games the last couple of years from the press box or the dressing room that it’s nice to be a part of every single one of them.”

Palmieri also set a career high by extending his point streak to seven games (six goals, four assists). He led the Islanders with 19 goals, including six winners, since Roy was hired on Jan. 20.

“You look over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to chip in on the scoresheet,” Palmieri said. “Even when it’s not there, I just hope to do the right things and give ourselves the best chance to win.”

“He’s been a force for us,” Roy said.

Ilya Sorokin made 40 saves, including stopping Sidney Crosby’s penalty shot with 29.5 seconds left in regulation. Nelson and Casey Cizikas also scored for the Islanders, who were 2-for-3 on the power play but allowed the Penguins to go 2-for-2 on the man advantage.

Notes & quotes:: Top-pair defenseman Noah Dobson (upper body/day to day) missed his third game but skated on his own before the Islanders’ morning skate. The team offered no further update on him…The NHL announced Anders Lee, a late scratch for personal reasons, was the Islanders’ nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for the player, “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in the community…” Forwards Mathew Barzal, Pierre Engvall and Hudson Fasching were held out for maintenance…Defenseman Adam Pelech played in his 500th NHL game, becoming the ninth blue-liner to play 500 games with the Islanders…Defenseman Mike Reilly played in his 400th NHL game…Right wing Oliver Wahlstrom played for the first time since Feb. 24…Bolduc was in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 27.

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