Well this was a much-needed result! The Rangers have been surging lately, while the Islanders have been... playing pretty poorly. However, entering this game, the Isles’ magic number for the playoffs was 8, and they had the chance to cut it down to 4 and give themselves an opportunity to clinch at the Coliseum in their next games against the Rangers.
With the pressure on, the Islanders played up to the level we know they’re capable of, putting four past Igor Shesterkin while Semyon Varlamov’s dominance against the Rangers continued, recording his third shutout this season against the Rangers, and his NHL-leading sixth shutout overall.
That shutout was earned with some help from Varlamov’s teammates, as early on Jordan Eberle hustled back to break up a 2 on 1 that would’ve set up a clear scoring opportunity for the Rangers.
The Islanders went on the power play when Artemi Panarin was called for tripping Noah Dobson, who was restored to the lineup after Braydon Coburn went in for him against the Capitals. The power play was mediocre, still not really generating enough offense and looking mostly indecisive.
A couple minutes later, Eberle made a great pass to set up Top Line Leo Komarov, who sniped home his first goal of the season, which couldn’t have come at a better time.
Ryan Strome had a partial breakaway, but Nick Leddy was able to get enough on the backcheck to make it too tough for him to get a shot away.
Pavel Buchnevich was called for tripping Mat Barzal, and while the power play was mostly bad, Oliver Wahlstrom’s scoring touch came back and he wired home his 10th of the season on the man advantage.
Wahlstrom makes it 2-0 pic.twitter.com/LoEs7fQw9Y— Isles on MSG+2 Tonight (@IslesMSGN) April 29, 2021
The Isles put on a ton of pressure late in the period and were somewhat unlucky to not get a third goal, but they wouldn’t have to wait too long...
Just over a minute in to the second frame, Brock Nelson won a faceoff, got the puck to Scott Mayfield, who sent a perfect pass to Anthony Beauvillier who put it past Shesterkin.
A minute later, we had some four on four play, when Wahlstrom and Buchnevich were both sent to the box for roughing.
Beauvillier went to the box about halfway through the period, but the Isles’ PK was solid and aggressive, putting pressure on the Rangers who couldn’t even get a shot on goal.
Varlamov made two solid saves on Alexis Lafreniere and Vitaly Kravtsov, and Cal Clutterbuck hit the post on a tipped shot, but the Isles closed out two periods up 3-0.
Josh Bailey nearly set up Brock Nelson, and the Beauvillier-Nelson-Bailey line got some solid zone time.
Ryan Lindgren left the game after his momentum from a hit on Clutterbuck sent him into the edge of the glass by the bench, where he hit his neck and fell right to the ice. He didn’t return to the game, and hopefully he’s alright.
One of the scarier moments of the game for the Islanders was after Matt Martin blocked a shot and was down in some pain, but the team couldn’t clear the zone, leaving a hobbled Martin stuck trying to defend against a tough Rangers offense. Eventually, they got the puck out, and Martin could get to the bench and seemed to be fine.
Anthony Beauvillier could have had another goal to continue his dominance against the Rangers (11 goals, 10 assists) but he hit the crossbar.
Barzal was called for boarding Brendan Smith with 7:30 left in the game, and the Rangers pulled Shesterkin for an extra skater to get a two man advantage. The Isles’ kill once again came up big, and they got the puck to Barzal as he came out of the penalty box. Barzal held onto it and bought himself time to shoot the puck right into the empty net, breaking his 13 game goalless streak.
Nothing like an empty netter against the Rangers pic.twitter.com/MzX3NK0lO0— Isles on MSG+2 Tonight (@IslesMSGN) April 30, 2021
Eberle nearly added another to the Isles’ total, but hit the post. It wouldn’t matter though, as the Isles thoroughly beat the Rangers 4-0.
- Scoring goals and winning games sure is fun!
- Despite Shesterkin clearly establishing himself as the Rangers’ number one goalie, the Isles have definitely had more success against him than they have against Georgiev. My guess is we see him on May 1, as the Rangers will really be fighting to keep the playoff race close.
- I’m glad Trotz decided to end the Zajac experiment. Zajac really should be an injury replacement, not an everyday guy.
- Maybe Top Line Leo Komarov should stick around...
The Islanders have literally never lost when Leo scores (13-0-0, including playoffs). pic.twitter.com/O754mEmkGM— TK (@diehardnyfan) April 30, 2021
Next, we head back to the Coliseum to close out the season series against the Rangers on May 1. Getting the regulation win clinches a playoff spot, let’s do it.