Head coach Patrick Roy of the Islanders speaks to the...

Head coach Patrick Roy of the Islanders speaks to the media before a game against Chicago at UBS Arena on Tuesday, April 2, 2024. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Facing a non-playoff team at this time of the season is rarely the gimme it might seem on paper. But being able to collect points against teams behind them in the standings is a must if the Islanders are to have any chance of qualifying for the postseason.

Tuesday night’s obstacle at UBS Arena was lottery-bound Chicago and Connor Bedard, the generational talent likely to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie.

“They’re obviously playing pretty free as a team and they have one of the best players in the world in Bedard,” Matt Martin said. “We have a lot more on the line than they do. In a lot of ways, those games can be difficult. Our desperation has to match their ability to play free. Our will and determination needs to be there from the get-go to push them out of the game that way. Anyone can beat anyone in this league.”

Martin’s analysis does not just apply to one game. The Islanders make their last flight of the regular season to face the Blue Jackets — long out of the playoff race — on Thursday night. The also-ran Canadiens visit next week.

The Islanders, coming off a 2-1-0 road trip with crucial wins over the Panthers and Flyers, cannot afford any letdowns.

The Islanders entered Tuesday four points behind the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division and three points behind the Capitals for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. After Tuesday’s match, the Islanders had played one less game than the Flyers and one more than the Capitals.

Chicago also represented the Islanders’ last chance at a win in the second game of a back-to-back set after Monday night’s 4-3 overtime victory in Philadelphia. They entered Tuesday’s match 0-6-3 in those games.

For coach Patrick Roy, the mindset the Islanders need to have — not just in back-to-back games but over the last eight games of the regular season — was on full display in the second period of Monday’s win. They dominated puck possession and outshot the Flyers 17-3 before being outshot themselves 19-3 in the third period.

“Play like we did in the second period, that’s how we have to play,” Roy said. “We’re a good team when we compete, when we skate, when we’re moving. When we’re watching, we’re just an OK team.

“We cannot just go out there and think they’re going to give it to us. They’re not going to give us anything. We’re going to have to earn it.”

Tuesday also marked the Islanders’ first chance at a firsthand look at Bedard, the highly-touted No. 1 overall pick who has lived up to all the hype with 21 goals and 36 assists in his first 60 NHL games.

Bedard was out with an injured jaw when the Islanders lost 4-3 in overtime in Chicago on Jan. 19. That represented the end of an 0-3-1 road trip and Lane Lambert’s last game as coach as he was fired the next day in favor of Roy.

“He’s a good hockey player,” said Roy, who also coached No. 1 overall pick Nathan MacKinnon with the Avalanche his first three seasons from 2013-16. “I remember MacKinnon when he came to Denver as a rookie. These guys are excited, they’re hungry every night they go on the ice.”

“He’s an elite level talent,” said Brock Nelson, who snapped a 10-game goal drought with his overtime winner against the Flyers. “A young guy that’s kind of taken the league by storm. He’s got a great shot, a lot of skill, good speed. He’s kind of got it all.”

Notes & quotes: Goalie Ilya Sorokin started for the first time in four games, ending his longest inactive stretch of the season . . . Roy inserted defenseman Sebastian Aho for Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Holmstrom for Hudson Fasching. Bortuzzo had played the last six games after missing 31 with an ankle injury. “Robert had a tough injury and we have a lot of games this week so we thought it would be good for him to have a day off,” Roy said. “Simon has been practicing hard. It’s good for him to be back in the lineup.” Defenseman Samuel Bolduc and right wing Oliver Wahlstrom remained healthy scratches.

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