In matching up against the first-place Islanders, the Rangers proved they could compete. Ding, ding, ding! Round 4 of the Battle of New York goes to the Blueshirts. The Rangers were calculated in
In matching up against the first-place Islanders, the Rangers proved they could compete.
Ding, ding, ding! Round 4 of the Battle of New York goes to the Blueshirts.
The Rangers were calculated in their approach and cautious of their opponents, which allowed them to pull out a 4-1 win at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night. It marked the Islanders’ second loss in regulation and first multi-goal loss at home after they had routinely dominated in their arena all season.
To make matters sweeter for the Rangers in the long-running rivalry, the victory extended the team’s win streak on Long Island to five straight games, which dates to Feb. 16, 2015.
Nothing, however, could be more satisfying than challenging one of the most established teams in the NHL this season and walking away with two points.
“They’re a really solid team,” said Alexis Lafreniere, who scored the first goal of the game. “They play the right way and to beat them, we just gotta go to work and that’s what we did.”
It was destined to be a battle of the goaltenders from the start, considering that each team’s previous three games this season ended with one of them getting shut out. The Islanders held a 2-1 series record heading into Friday.
Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev, who entered the contest with a stellar 6-2 career record against the Islanders, hadn’t seen game action since March 19 as the Rangers rode Igor Shesterkin, with one start for Keith Kinkaid sprinkled in. On the other hand, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov hadn’t conceded a goal to the Rangers in his two previous starts against them this season, turning aside all 54 shots they’d thrown at him.
Neither goalie was perfect Friday, but Georgiev made 31 saves on 32 shots, while Varlamov stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced.
“I think it was maybe a little bit easier even. I haven’t played for a while, and I just came right into the game,” said Georgiev of his approach after the long layoff. “I was confident coming into it and just did my job. Same as usual.”
It looked as if the shutout trend were poised to continue after a scoreless first period. But Lafreniere ended the Rangers’ scoring drought against Varlamov at 146:05, when he poked the puck in at 6:05 of the second period following a scramble in front of the Islanders’ net.
Colin Blackwell then extended his goal streak to a career-high three games less than four minutes later, banging home a feed from Artemi Panarin for the 2-0 score.
The Islanders quickly shifted their focus to screening Georgiev, who carried a career 1.80 goals-against average when facing the Isles. Brock Nelson managed to deflect a shot in from Adam Pelech, but it was waived off for a high stick. That only prompted the Islanders to keep doing what they were doing, and less than a minute later, Andy Greene’s blast from the point found the back of the net through traffic to cut their deficit to 2-1.
The Rangers, however, buckled down in the third period and stuck to what had been working for them all night. That led to K’Andre Miller’s slap shot to regain the two-goal lead before Mika Zibanejad’s empty-net goal put the game out of reach.
There was a stark difference between the Rangers team that showed up at the Coliseum on Friday and the one that faced the Penguins at the Garden on Thursday. Both games were against squads currently bound for the playoffs. But playing their New York rivals must spark something in the Rangers.
“This [Islanders] team’s had a hell of year,” Rangers head coach David Quinn said. “Obviously, they’re making a big push, they make a big deal three days ago and they got a really good team. We’ve had great games with them all year other than the opener, but last year we had some great games with them.
“Listen, it’s the Islanders-Rangers, and a lot doesn’t matter when the Rangers and the Islanders play. It’s a rivalry game and we needed this one. Just really proud of our guys.”
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mollie Walker