A thrilling matchup between the Islanders and Rangers took place in Madison Square Garden Wednesday night as the Islanders conquered the (home-ice) struggling Rangers fall 3-2 for their 7th straight home loss. The Rangers are about to head out on a 3 game road trip out west, which might work in their favor as they can’t seem to hold a lead at home.
Despite 3 penalties by the Islanders captain, John Tavares, the Isles were able to pull out a huge win, keeping their playoff hopes alive. With 10 games left in the season they are now 2 points behind Boston for the second wild card spot with a game in hand, 3 behind Toronto, and 3 ahead of Tampa Bay. If they want to make the playoffs, they are going to need to play much better than they did tonight, especially the Captain.
Coming out strong in the second period Mats Zuccarello gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a power play goal, a strong play from Mika Zibanejad tumbling to the ice left Zuccarello with a wide open net and an easy tap in goal. However, Anders Lee buried an Anthony Beauvillier rebound to tie the game less than a minute later. Play calmed down for just a few minutes until Rick Nash of the Rangers made a slick play to get by Thomas Hickey and while falling to the ice knifed it past Thomas Greiss putting the Rangers back up 2-1 through the end of the second.
The third period proved to be an edge of your seat, nail-biting type 20 minutes. As an avid Islander fan, and being 20 rows away from the ice last night I know it had my heart pounding. Down 2-1 in a now must win game after Toronto closed out Columbus 5-2 to take a 5 point lead in the playoff race, anxiety started to build. The Islanders were definitely ready to go at the start of the third getting a couple good chances, but nothing getting to the back of the net. A fortuitous bounce from Joshua Ho-Sang pass hit Beauvillier’s skate, then Nikolay Kulemin’s skate and right into the net got things going, and tied the game at 2 a piece.
Luck just was not on the side of the Rangers, especially a little past halfway through the third when Michael Grabner received a delay of game penalty for lifting the puck out of play in his own defensive end, sending the Islanders to yet another power play. This time it was the red hot Andrew Ladd giving the Islanders their first, and only lead of the night off a rebound left by Antti Raanta. With 8 minutes left, the Rangers gave it their best shot and had plenty of opportunities such as a partial Michael Grabner shorthanded breakaway within the last minute of play which was bothered by a great defensive effort from Nick Leddy of the Islanders and stopped by Greiss. Final, 3-2 Islanders.