Friday night at Nassau Coliseum, for the second straight night, the Islanders didn’t look quite right and they paid the price by losing 4-1 to the Rangers. On a night when the bounces just didn’t go their way and Alexander Georgiev remained an unsolvable mystery, the Isles saw their four-game winning streak snapped and failed to maintain sole possession of first-place in the MassMutual Division thanks to Washington’s 4-3 win over Buffalo.
The opening several minutes saw the Islanders and Rangers skate back-and-forth with speed; swapping chances before eventually settling down just a bit.
It was unusual to see the Boys from Long Island attempt to play a wide-open game early as opposed to their usual tight, defense-first system. In fact, it looked like the Rangers were forcing the Isles to play their game rather than allowing the Nassaumen to implement their game plan.
By the end of the first period, the Blueshirts had outshot the Isles 13-7 and the Islanders had once again failed to generate any momentum when on the man-advantage. 10:56 into the first period, Mika Zibanejad was sent to the box for boarding J.G. Pageau, but it didn’t matter as the Isles could not register a single shot on goal; although, Brock Nelson did deflect a shot off the crossbar that would have given the Isles an early lead.
On to the second period for the part of the game when the Isles have struggled most this season. And true to form, Rangers’ rookie, Alexis Lafreniére got his team on the board 6:05 into the middle period when he cleaned up a loose puck off a goalmouth scramble during which Semyon Varlamov made a couple saves on Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko while his teammates were caught puck-watching. 1-0 Rangers and it was just another example of how the Islanders just don’t seem to like the second period this year.
Just shy of four-minutes later, (3:56 to be exact) the Isles allowed Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Ryan Strome to pass the puck around the zone until the puck deflected off Ryan Pulock and right to Colin Blackwell, who shot the puck through Pulock’s legs and over Varlamov’s blocker for the 2-0 Rangers lead.
The Islanders tried to get one back moments later when Adam Pelech’s blast from just inside the blue-line deflected off Brock Nelson’s stick and past Alexander Georgiev to get the Nassaumen on the board; or so they thought.
The call on the ice initially seemed to be a good-goal but was quickly changed to no-goal before going to a video review. The review didn’t take long and Nelson’s goal was officially wiped away because it was played by a high-stick.
That sapped the Isles of what little momentum they had and continued the narrative that the second period has been unkind to the Islanders this year.
There was one bright spot for the home team though and that was Andy Greene potting his first career regular season goal as a member of the Islanders over a calendar year after being acquired via trade from the Devils.
On the play, Greene fired a blast from the point through traffic and his aim was true as the puck found the back of the net to cut the Isles deficit to 2-1. At one point the NHL officials deemed Jordan Eberle to have touched the puck before entering the net and credited him with the goal but they eventually realized it was indeed Greene’s goal and gave it back to him.
Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Boys from Long Island would muster as K’Andre Miller and Mika Zibanejad (ENG) salted the game away in the third period to seal the Isles 4-1 loss. And beyond their second period woes, the Isles once again failed to solve Alexander Georgiev, who increased his career record against them to 7-2-0.
Your guess is as good as mine for why the second period and Alexander Georgiev are kryptonite to the Islanders. If you find the answer, please send it by the quickest means possible to the Isles; I’m sure they’d appreciate the detective work.
But super sleuth or not, these teams will reconvene Sunday as the Islanders attempt to hold on to at least a share of first-place while the Rangers attempt to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Should be fun!
And after the game, Head Coach Barry Trotz explained tonight’s game as simply as he could: “They made more plays then we did and they got the result they wanted.”
The Isles went 0-for-1 on the power-play to bring their season tally to 18-for-101…The Islanders four-game win streak has been snapped…Andy Greene’s goal was his first in the regular season as a member of the Islanders…This was the fourth meeting between the Islanders and Rangers this season, but the first to not feature a shutout on either side…This was also the first time the Islanders and Rangers played at Nassau Coliseum this season…Semyon Varlamov had his shutout streak of 146:05 against the Rangers this season snapped on Alexis Lafreniére’s second period goal…The Isles are now 17-2-2 at home this season.
Sunday April 11th Islanders vs Rangers at Nassau Coliseum at 7pm(EST).