New York Islanders Comeback To Beat Rangers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
The New York Islanders defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, to stay a float in the playoff race.
The Isles came into the night three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final wild card spot in the East. Doug Weight brought out a new line of John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, and Josh Bailey against the Rangers on Wednesday looking to create an offensive spark.
The Islanders got the first power play of the evening ten minutes into the first when Anthony Beauvillier drew a trip, but the power play would continue to struggle. The only real chance came for Michael Grabner who was stoned away by Thomas Greiss to keep the game scoreless.
Minutes later, Tavares would give the Rangers their first power play of the night. The Isles didn’t have to kill one penalty Saturday vs. the Blue Jackets, but they looked good. Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas got a two on one chance on the kill but Anti Raanta snared a Clutterbuck wrister. Raanta was playing his second straight game; he started in the Rangers 3-2 OT loss to the Devils last night.
Greiss was tested a great deal in the final minute of the opening period. The Islanders felt lucky to escape the first period scoreless but they did just that. The Isles and Rangers went into the first intermission tied at zero a piece.
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Three minutes into the second Tavares took his second penalty of the game and the Rangers power play got back to work. Chimera could not finish a check in the corner and Mats Zuccarello was left wide open in front of the net and put the Rangers up 1-0 early in the second frame.
Just a minute later, Nick Leddy led a three on two rush for the Isles. Beauvillier took a shot that left a juicy rebound for Anders Lee who tied the game at two. It was a quick and much needed answer for the Islanders.
Later in the period Scott Mayfield and Tanner Glass got into a fight, Glass dropped Mayfield and the crowd at Madison Square Garden was getting into it.
The game was opening up and the Rangers were now capitalizing on their chances. Rick Nash broke through, beating Thomas Hickey along the boards for a mini breakaway. He put one over the glove of Greiss and the Rangers regained the lead at the 6:36 mark of the second.
At 8:38 Tavares took his third penalty of the game. It was a rough period and a half for the captain. The Isles PK would come up with another kill to keep the deficit at one. The Islanders did not look good and it would need to change in a hurry.
With five minutes left in the period Greiss made one of his best saves of the year. Hickey had an awful turnover and Greiss had to sprawl to his left to deny Grabner,
The Isles would go into the second intermission down 2-1, luckily.
The Islanders lost Ryan Strome at the end of the second with an upper body injury and he would not return for the third.
The Isles penalty kill would have to go to work again just one minute into the third when Brock Nelson took a tripping penatly. The Isles were on thin ice.
After the penalty kill the Islanders got a power play of their own. It was a bad power play yet again, but the Isles got a friendly bounce at the end. Josh Ho-Sang threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off the skate of Beauvillier then the skate of Nikolay Kulemin and into the net. Just like that, with 14:59 left this game was tied at two. Although it was certainly a lucky bounce, Ho-Sang continues to make things happen on the offensive end.
The Islanders were able tighten up defensively after the goal. Greiss was not as worked and all of the sudden the Islanders found themselves back in the hockey game.
Later in the period Grabner would take a penalty and the Isles power play got back to work. On the power play Tavares would have a shot blocked but it would go right to Lee who made a great pass for Andrew Ladd who beat Raanta.
At the 12:38 mark of the 3rd the Islanders had a 3-2 lead. It was the 20th goal of the season for Ladd and the Isles second power play goal of the night. Four of Ladd’s 20 have come against the Rangers. He is fitting in quite nicely.
Right after the goal the Islanders would suffer a few defensive lapses, but Greiss was able to keep the Isles ahead. With three minutes left the Rangers opened a shooting gallery on Greiss and missed multiple chances to tie the game. It was safe to say the Isles were holding on for dear life. They would pull the goalie with a minute and a half to play.
With 41 seconds to play Zuccarello would trip Calvin de Haan and the Islanders headed back to the power play and its fans let out a major sigh of relief. Just when it looked like the game was over, Grabner got a shorthanded breakaway but didn’t get much of a shot off. Then Anders Lee took a tripping penalty.
It wasn’t easy or pretty but some how the Islanders held on. They defeated the Rangers 3-2. The Leafs won on Tuesday to jump ahead of the Bruins. The Isles now trail Boston by two points for the final playoff spot.
Next: Isles make coin for Barclays, but for how long?
The Islanders will get right back at it tomorrow night when they take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh.