Artemi Panarin and the Chicago Blackhawks had very little room to maneuver against the New York Islanders all the way to the very end.
Fortunately for Panarin and company, a little space for a few precious moments is more than enough.
Panarin scored with 1:14 left in regulation and then had the clinching goal in the shootout, helping the Blackhawks beat the Islanders 2-1 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
Chicago was held in check by Thomas Greiss and New York after scoring at least four goals in each of its previous five games. Greiss finished with 30 stops, and the Islanders helped the goaltender by blocking 23 shots.
But Panarin drove a one-timer from the top of the left circle past Greiss on his right side late in the third, and Jonathan Toews also scored in the shootout to help Chicago get the win in its first tiebreaker since Nov. 29 against Florida.
"Showed some character there," said Corey Crawford, who had 31 saves in his first start since Feb. 23.
After Toews beat Greiss with a wrist shot in the shootout, Crawford turned away Joshua Ho-Sang. Patrick Kane was stopped by Greiss and Nikolay Kulemin shot it off the right post before Panarin finished off the Blackhawks' 11th win in 12 games.
"We played a pretty patient game, pretty tight too, but at the end they just pressed hard down," Greiss said.
The Islanders had won four of five, including a 5-4 victory at Dallas on Thursday night. Brock Nelson scored in the second, but that was it for New York against Crawford.
"It was a greatly goaltended game by both guys," Islanders interim coach Doug Weight said. "He saved their bacon just as much as Thomas saved ours."
Chicago (41-18-5) pulled within one point of Western Conference-leading Minnesota despite playing without center Artem Anisimov and rookie forward Nick Schmaltz. Anisimov was shelved by a lower-body injury, and Schmaltz was scratched with an illness.
Blackhawks defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya also are out with injuries, and coach Joel Quenneville announced after the game that backup goaltender Scott Darling will be out for three weeks after he got hurt at the end of the morning skate.
"At the end of the day, we're satisfied with the two points," Toews said. "Even if we're missing a few guys tonight, you can always have better pace, better speed, better energy than we had tonight."
The Islanders (30-22-11) jumped in front moments after killing off a cross-checking penalty on forward Anders Lee in the second. Nelson skated in with Travis Hamonic on a 2-on-1 and shot it between Crawford's legs at 13:27 for his 14th goal of the season.
New York almost had three goals in the second. Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell swept a loose puck away from the goal line about 70 seconds into the period, and Crawford made two straight stops on Andrew Ladd after an ugly turnover by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook near the blue line.
NOTES: It was Panarin's first goal since Feb. 10 at Winnipeg and No. 20 on the year. ... Greiss made an outstanding pad save on Ryan Hartman in the third. ... New York dropped to 3-1-1 on its season-high nine-game road trip. ... Islanders D Johnny Boychuk limped off with a left leg injury in the first period but returned to the game. ... It was Hamonic's first game since Jan. 7. He had been sidelined by a lower-body injury. ... The Blackhawks recalled G Jeff Glass to serve as Crawford's backup. The 31-year-old Glass has a 2.62 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 13 games with Rockford of the American Hockey League. ... Toews played in his 700th NHL game.
Islanders: Visit Calgary on Sunday.
Blackhawks: Visit Nashville on Saturday night.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap