2. The Islanders Picked Up Points on a Busy Night in the East Division
The NHL’s East Division was abuzz with action on Tuesday night. All eight of the division’s teams played, and though there wasn’t much movement in the standings, the Islanders can feel pretty good about the results on Wednesday morning.
The Rangers, surging for a late season playoff push for the second season in a row, put a pretty good beating on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. The Rags cruised to a lopsided 8-4 win with key contributions from Panarin, Zibanejad, Strome, Kakko, Lafrenière, and others, including Norris Trophy candidate, Adam Fox.
The win draws the Rangers to within five points of the fourth place Boston Bruins, and leapfrogs them ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for fifth. Speaking of the Bruins and Flyers, they squared off at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly, where the offensively-anemic Bruins topped the tail-spinning Flyers by a score of 4-2.
This is really the only result of the night that didn’t fall the Islanders’ way. Ideally, the B’s, who are nearer to striking distance than Philly, would’ve dropped points thus making the climb to the top-three East Division spots a steeper one.
Finally, in what was really Tuesday’s least consequential game of the night around the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres met the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. By least consequential, I of course mean that the teams involved are furthest removed from contention. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an interesting storyline to come out of the game.
Taylor Hall, the Sabres left winger who is this trade deadline’s biggest name, did not dress for Buffalo. Kyle Palmieri was healthy scratched for the second game in a row by New Jersey. Both players are desired trade targets for a number of contending NHL teams, of which the Islanders are considered one.
Whatever happens on the trade front, this was a positive night for the Islanders. The team bought their management some more time with the win, and they look to be figuring out the Capitals again, as well as closing the gap for first place.