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Islanders 3, Rangers 0: Isles clinch playoff spot as Varlamov’s extends shutout milestones

Varlamov is the first goalie of the expansion era to shut out a team four times in one season (and yes it still counts even though it’s the Rangers).

NHL: New York Rangers at New York Islanders
Bailey, Beauvillier and Brock were feeling it.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Islanders clinched a playoff appearance for the third consecutive season and Semyon Varlamov, the Mayor of Madison Square Garden, notched his third consecutive shutout while backstopping the Islanders to a 3-0 win and sweep of the New York Rangers.

Verlamov, who also shut out the Rangers on Thursday, is the first goalie of the expansion era to shut out another team four times in one season. It last happened in 1963-64. He also extended his franchise-record shutout streak.

With the clinch, the Islanders have made the playoffs in every season under Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello. The win brings them back into third place in the East, but the standings are absurdly tight and they could finish anywhere from first to fourth before the final weeks of the season conclude.

A Milestone GTFO

With the Islanders’ new arena opening next season and the Rangers nearly guaranteed to miss the playoffs, this was the last meeting between these rivals at Nassau Coliseum. Fitting, then, that once again the Rangers left with nothing.

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First Period: Exactly the start they wanted

The Islanders started well, had the first six shots on goal, and opened scoring on the fourth shot with a sizzling Anthony Beauvillier snapshot from the slot. It was created by some very good transition and rinkwide switching by the Isles, with Nick Leddy carrying up the left before finding Josh Bailey alone on the right wing side to gain the blueline, where a nifty Bailey setup gave Beauvillier space to unload.

It was Marvel Superhero Night, so some highlights get the graphical treatment:

Varlamov was called on to make one very good save point blank on Pavel Buchnevich, which otherwise might’ve erased the good start. A Rangers power play after Kyle Palmieri was sent to the box also provided another test.

But after that was killed, Mathew Barzal doubled the lead on a breakaway after another good play from Bailey, poking the puck free high in the Isles zone to send Barzal free.

The Isles continued to pressure through the horn that ended the period.

Second Period: Double the Beau, Lose the Palmieri

The Islanders picked up right where they left off and extended the lead to 3-0 at 1:02 of the second. Again it was a good neutral zone transition, again it was Beauvillier doing the damage with a nearly identical shot to his first goal.

Brock Nelson had the primary assist this time — and Bailey got his third of the night with the secondary helper — though Nelson bobbled the puck on his initial reception to make it a little less smooth than Beauvillier’s prior marker.

The teams traded single penalties and unsuccessful power plays, with the only notable moment coming when a Noah Dobson point shot deflected up and hit Kyle Palmieri in the visor and face, bloodying him and sending him to the locker room.

Palmieri did return for the third period.

Third Period: Business-like Finish

The Isles lost J-G Pageau early in the third period, but he too returned from the locker room late in regulation.

And Anthony Beauvillier survived a scary slide into the boards without missing time, after being pushed by K’Andre Miller when he tried to beat the towering Rangers defenseman outside.

Otherwise, the period was a mix of chances or near chances that mostly stemmed from the Islanders sticking to a disciplined, take-care-of-business approach.

The Isles played quite well, but there were leaks and Varlamov once again earned his shutout, with 28 saves.

Up Next

The standings are tight and the Islanders have more “should wins” on the schedule. Next week they head to Buffalo for two games on back-to-back nights, then two games at the Coliseum with the Devils, before a final meeting with the Bruins that could matter for seeding or could end up being taxi squad time.