The New York Islanders entered Madison Square Garden needing to re-find their form, and they did so in what was a fairly dominant 4-0 victory on Thursday.
After three consecutive tough losses to the Washington Capitals, the New York Islanders needed to re-find what had made them so successful. On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden they did just that, scoring a convincing 4-0 win over the New York Rangers.
Here are three takeaways from the Islanders final regular season game at MSG in 2020-21.
1. Islanders One Step Closer to Clinching Playoff Berth
The New York Islanders left Washington on Tuesday having lost their last three games of the regular season to the Capitals, and things were looking a little bleak as the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers continued inching their way up the standings from behind.
For an Islanders team who had played well for most of 2020-21, I’d say that 1-0 Tuesday loss in Washington marked a low point to this season for me. It felt like all that hard work from earlier this year was coming undone at just the wrong time, and perhaps even worse, the possibility that the Rangers could swipe the Islanders’ playoff spot from them was still on the table.
I don’t know about anyone else, but that possibility lent itself to the energy I felt coming in to Thursday night’s tilt at MSG. For me, there was a simultaneous nervousness and excitement as game time rolled around. In the end, that anticipation of an almost playoff-like atmosphere really never came to fruition.
The Islanders controlled Thursday’s game pretty convincingly. Their offense converted on chances, while the Rangers could not. Their forechecking and cycling kept the Rangers hemmed in their defensive zone frequently, and the team from Manhattan visibly struggled to cope with that.
By the time the third period had rolled around, the outcome felt all but assured. A 4-0 victory for the Islanders, and a huge one at that. The win not only kept the Islanders ahead of the Boston Bruins by one point, but it also put them one step closer to securing a top-four placement in the East Division and a playoff berth.
If the Islanders can defeat the Rangers on Saturday, they will take that final step and punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would be a fitting way to close the final chapter of Nassau Coliseum’s hosting of the Islanders-Rangers rivalry.