In their first season in Brooklyn, the New York Islanders swept the season series with their older city rivals for the first time in history. A 4-1 victory at Madison Square Garden was the largest margin of victory in this season's four wins, the previous three being of the close and chaotic variety.
Thomas Greiss missed a shutout by just 2:38, which is how much time was left in regulation when Kevin Klein beat him from the point on the Rangers' 37th shot on goal. The Rangers didn't threaten his cage again after that.
With the win, the already playoff-bound Isles clinched at least the first wild card position and pulled into a tie with the Rangers at 99 points. The Isles still hold a game in hand, but the Rangers hold the tiebreaker. So to leap into third place in the Metro -- the only possible alternative after the Penguins clinched second in Washington -- the Isles need one more point from their final two games than the Rangers get from their final game.
A sleepy game in which the Rangers had the better of rather dull play broke open with a three-goal burst by the Islanders in the second half of the middle period.
It started at 13:28 with good pressure by the Isles, and a heads-up pass by Steve Bernier to Marek Zidlicky at the point. Zidlicky one-timed a low shot that would've gone wide if not for a Shane Prince deflection, and might have still gone wide if not for one more touch off a Ranger leg.
Prince helped create the next goal too, making Leddy-esque rush toward the back of the net before pulling up to send a cutting pass to Casey Cizikas, who finished from the low slot. That made it 2-0 with 1:22 left in the second period.
But the Isles weren't done. On the ensuing faceoff Calvin de Haan followed his chip-in into the Rangers corner and was tripped by Ketih Yandle. They worked quickly on the power play, with John Tavares sending an oustanding, sauce pass through traffic and across the low slot to set up a Frans Nielsen one-timer. Henrik Lundqvist caught a piece of Nielsen's shot, but not enough.
With 15 seconds left in the second period, suddenly it was 3-0 and Lundqvist wouldn't see the ice after intermission. Antti Raanta did mop-up duty in the uneventful third.
After Klein's goal, the Isles had a few chances at the empty net before Tavares finished it from the neutral zone, because John Tavares never saw an empty net he didn't like.
Nightly Injury Watch
I am tired of typing up all the injuries, but not as tired as I am of seeing more accumulate. It was scary enough when de Haan crashed into the boards on the Yandle trip, as you worry about the knee that kept him out of last game. But he got up and played on. Still, there was more...
- In the first period, Anders Lee took a Johnny Boychuk shot off the foot and returnd for one shift.
- In the second period Boychuk fell awkwardly after Derek Stepan's stick helped split his legs into a groin-cringing position. He had trouble getting off, then hunched over on the bench, but he was back for the third.
Hearing it's very bad news for Anders Lee -- possible fractured leg. #Isles planning further tests tomorrow.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 8, 2016
Zeitgeist (Unless you're somehow angry about sweeping the Rangers)
Hank looks like he's about to cry. Don't cry Hank, don't cry pic.twitter.com/1nJtIeHk3n— connor (@ConIsles) April 8, 2016
It's fun to sweep the Rangers, no doubt. In a way it's particularly fun when it's just kind of ho-hum no-big deal.
The Isles finish the season and a crazy five-in-seven-days stretch with back-to-back games this weekend at home to the Sabres and Flyers. The Flyers might need Sunday's game. The Isles just need to come out with no additional injuries.