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Islanders 4, Rangers 2: They don’t make it easy

The Islanders finally break their skid with a 4-2 win against the Rangers in a weird game at Madison Square Garden.

New York Islanders v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In a weird game that featured an offside challenge, an entire period of Mathew Barzal on the bench, a Scott Mayfield double minor, a delay of game bench minor, and the Isles giving everyone flashbacks of blown leads, the New York Islanders were able to close out January with a win against the rival New York Rangers, and head into the All-Star break to get some much needed rest. Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, and Brock Nelson had the goals for the Islanders, two of which were on the power play, and Thomas Greiss was fantastic in net, turning away 40 of 42 shots.

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First Period

Jordan Eberle took a slashing penalty, and the Rangers nearly scored, but the Isles were able to kill it. The Isles struggled to get the puck out, leading to three consecutive icings after the PK. Fortunately, it seemed like the icings in quick succession actually led to the Isles getting a little more rest in, and they were able to get the puck out.

Ryan Strome took a penalty for high sticking, and Josh Bailey scored the Islanders’ first power play goal of the night. Noah Dobson took a shot that Bailey got a piece of, and then it hit off Ryan Lindgren as well and past Alexandar Georgiev.

Anthony Beauvillier was hooked by Brady Skjei, and during a 3 on 2 on the power play, Bailey found Mathew Barzal who set up Anthony Beauvillier in the slot with plenty of time and space, and he went high glove on Georgiev to give the Isles a two goal lead.

Second Period

The Rangers hit the post early, and Beauvillier followed up his goal with some good two way play to break up the Rangers’ zone time. Leo Komarov deflected a shot that almost went in, but Ross Johnston came onto the ice and delivered a huge hit on Ryan Lindgren (who you may recall roughly introduced Jordan Eberle’s face to the crossbar last time these teams played.) However, Johnston was called for boarding. The Islanders killed the penalty, and about a minute later Anders Lee gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead, after Eberle and Barzal put in some strong work down low to get the puck through defenders and get it to Lee.

Nick Leddy hit the post, and Barzal had a breakaway, but not enough space to get it to his backhand. Thomas Greiss was huge for the entire game, but especially came up big on a few saves this period.

Then, Brock Nelson turned the puck over and it eventually found its way to Ryan Strome, who scored. Or.. seemed to score, as the Islanders immediately challenged the play for offsides. In a fairly quick review, the Isles were proven correct, and the goal was taken off the board.

Then.. potentially the incident that got Barzal benched for the entirety of the third period.

Obviously, we’ll never get official confirmation if this was truly the reason why, but it seems to be the only obvious play that would draw Barry Trotz’s ire after Barzal had two assists in the first two periods. Barzal carried the puck into the Rangers’ end, it seemed to bounce on him a little, but as he got control he had the option to just get it in deep, and didn’t. He instead curled to the boards, where a broken stick was, making it difficult for him to get a handle, and then Ryan Pulock couldn’t handle the pass that Barzal send to him, leading to a Rangers’ rush. I can see the argument on Trotz’s end that Barzal just has to make the safe play there, but I can also see the point that the puck was bouncing, there were a lot of defenders around him, and if that broken stick wasn’t there, the turnover likely doesn’t happen. Weird play to warrant a period warming the bench, but that’s what happened.

Third Period

In the third, the Rangers iced the puck, setting up an Isles offensive zone draw that they won, and Josh Bailey then set up Brock Nelson for a tap in for his 20th goal of the season.

Brendan Lemieux hit the post, and would later be involved in a near turning point for the game, as he got into it with Scott Mayfield, who took the bait, hook, line, and sinker, and speared Lemieux, earning himself a double minor. Pavel Buchnevich tipped an Adam Fox shot to make the game 4-1, and the Rangers then pulled Georgiev for a 6 on 4 for the second minor. Nelson missed the empty net, and then Chris Kreider scored to make it 4-2.

There was a timeout called after the Isles iced the puck, and due to some confusion on the bench between the players, coaches, and refs, the Islanders ended up getting called for a delay of game bench minor. It was weird, and seemed like they just kept swapping guys while trying to get it right, but I was honestly thinking to myself that it was weird that they wouldn’t call delay of game for something like that. My bad, guys.

The Isles were able to kill the penalty though, and comically couldn’t hit the empty net at the end of the game, despite five shots on it, but were still able to close out the game for a 4-2 win.

Up Next

Next, the Islanders will go on their break plus bye week, so their next game will be at the Coliseum on February 1st against the Vancouver Canucks. However, if you missed your fix of Mathew Barzal after last seeing him an entire third period ago, he’ll be featured as the Islanders representative in the NHL All-Star Game and Skills competition on Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25.