The Islanders played well tonight, putting up 40 shots on Alexandar Georgiev in total, but the offense wasn’t coming anywhere near as easily as it did last game against the Red Wings. It took until the end of a 22 shot first period for Josh Bailey to break the deadlock. The Rangers would tie the game on a power play in the second, and take the lead off an Tony DeAngelo just out of the penalty box breakaway goal. Then, Anthony Beauvillier tied it up again, but a late Derick Brassard cross-checking penalty would sink the Islanders as Chris Kreider scored on the power play. Frustrating, disappointing game, as the Isles deserved at least a point for their effort.
The Isles came out strong in the first, though Casey Cizikas took a penalty for tripping Ryan Strome about five minutes in. The Islanders killed that penalty and continued putting pressure on the Rangers. Jordan Eberle made a good move but unfortunately couldn’t break through. Scott Mayfield was slashed, drawing a penalty (finally), but the Islanders couldn’t score.
After a lot of zone time, the Islanders finally broke through, with Tom Kuhnhackl chasing the puck into the zone, making a play to Ross Johnston who dummied it (mishandled it?) and got it to Josh Bailey, who shot it past Georgiev.
The Rangers put on the pressure this period, and Devon Toews took a penalty for holding Mika Zibanejad on a breakaway. The Islanders killed the penalty, and Semyon Varlamov was key to keeping the game 1-0. However, Scott Mayfield would take a tripping penalty, and Zibanejad would get credit for the Rangers’ power play goal after Ryan Pulock made a save behind Varlamov that then bounced off him and just past the goal line. Initially, it was not called a goal, as it appeared Pulock actually was able to make the second save. Play was blown dead shortly after, pretty much ensuring that the powers that be in the Toronto review room saw a good goal.
Mathew Barzal drew a penalty where the Islanders started to get some good looks, and as it expired, Ryan Lindgren crosschecked Jordan Eberle into the crossbar, appearing to injure him. The hit looked dirty, and Eberle needed assistance to get off the ice. It looked unlikely that he would return for the third.
Jordan Eberle did, however, come back for the third period. He made an impact pretty quickly, drawing the ire of Tony DeAngelo after he knocked the stick out of his hands. In frustration, DeAngelo went after Anders Lee, and was called for interference. The Islanders had a great power play, the best chance coming from Eberle hitting the post, but unfortunately the puck was cleared and bounced right to DeAngelo as he exited the box, and he was able to score immediately after, giving the Rangers the lead.
Ryan Pulock took a penalty for closing his fist around the puck and throwing it, but the Isles killed that penalty. Barzal and Eberle had some good chances, and then Casey Cizikas and Artemi Panarin were called for hooking and embellishment, respectively (though it was an extreme dive from Panarin, who was barely touched by Cizikas.) On the 4-on-4 though, Anthony Beauvillier tied the game at 2-2, slipping the puck past Georgiev.
Chris Kreider then runs directly into Varlamov and was called for goaltender interference, giving the Isles a 4 on 3. Some more good looks, but no goals, as that seemed to be the theme of the Isles’ power play, which finally got to establish some kind of rhythm after barely being used at all.
Scott Mayfield and Derick Brassard had a 2 on 1, but Mayfield couldn’t quite connect with Brassard on the play. Johnny Boychuk iced the puck as regulation was winding down, and the Isles couldn’t get out of their zone, leading to Brassard getting called for a weak but extremely stupid crosscheck. The call was bad, especially given where the game was at, but Brassard should know better than to crosscheck a guy blatantly like that as late in the game as he did. Either way, he went to the box, and Chris Kreider scored on the power play, winning the game for the Rangers in regulation.
Next, the Islanders face off against the division and league-leading Washington Capitals in a Saturday matinee at Nassau Coliseum. The big question going into that game is whether Ovechkin will choose to miss this game as his All-Star game skipping suspension, the Capitals’ last before the All-Star break, or their game against Montreal after the break. Seems more likely he would sit against the Habs than against a division rival and his former coach, but coming off a hat trick tonight against the Devils, he might want to keep the hot streak going. Should be exciting!