Ilkka Sinisalo's career-high 37th goal of the season was the game-winner as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Islanders, 4-2, last night at Philadelphia.

The Flyers maintained a tie for first place in the Patrick Division with the Washington Capitals.

Dave Poulin opened the scoring for the Flyers at 8:49 of the first period. He took a pass from Tim Kerr and fired a low shot that beat goalie Bill Smith. Rick Tocchet gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead by sliding in a backhand shot at 18:01 of the second period. Tocchet took a rebound away from Smith, skating around the goaltender and shoving the puck off Smith's skate.

In the third period, Sinisalo received a pass from Kerr and released a low 12-foot shot that bounced off Smith's right pad into the goal at 5:52.

Rich Kromm got the Islanders' first goal with a 25-foot shot that beat Bob Froese at 6:22. Denis Potvin closed the gap to 3-2 seven minutes later when he picked up a loose puck inside the Flyers' zone and, from the top of the right faceoff circle, drove a wrist shot past Froese's right arm.

The Islanders removed Smith for an extra attacker with 53 seconds to play, and the Flyers' Peter Zezel wrapped it up with an empty-net score with 22 seconds remaining.

The Islanders were without a shot for the first 11:40 of the game.

*Whalers 5, Sabres 3: At Hartford, Kevin Dineen scored two goals and assisted on one as the Whalers beat Buffalo to take control of the final playoff spot in the Adams Division.

The Whalers need win one of their last three games to clinch their first appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 1979-80 season, their first in the league.

The Sabres are in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1973-74 season. Hartford's victory put the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins in the playoffs.

*Nordiques 4, Red Wings 0: Brent Ashton and Anton Stastny scored two goals each and goaltender Clint Malarchuk gained his fourth shutout of the season as Adams Division winner Quebec, at home, tuned up for the playoffs.

*Maple Leafs 2, Blues 2: In St. Louis, Kevin LaVallee's 18th goal of the season, with 3:25 left in the third period, lifted the Blues to a tie with Toronto.

His goal from the slot spoiled a strong goaltending performance by rookie Ken Wregget and left St. Louis in the thick of a three-way battle for first place in the Norris Division.

*Blackhawks 2, North Stars 1: Murray Bannerman's goaltending and Ken Yaremchuk's rebound shot at the end of the second period won the game between Norris Division leaders in Bloomington, Minn.

First-place Chicago leads Minnesota by three points. The teams will play tonight in Chicago.

*Flames 6, Canucks 5: Hakan Loob scored two goals but teammate John Tonelli got the game-winner in Calgary.

The Canucks' goalie, Richard Brodeur, was taken from the ice on a stretcher in the third period after Tonelli and Lanny McDonald piled into him. His injuries were undetermined.