Game Preview: NY Islanders at NY Rangers (Game 80)

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

There will be considerable juice at Madison Square Garden this afternoon as the New York Islanders (37-27-15) and New York Rangers (53-23-4) meet for the fourth and final time this season. The Islanders, who sit in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division, can clinch a playoff spot today with points and some help later tonight in games involving the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and Detroit Red Wings. Meanwhile, the Rangers have an Eastern Conference-leading 110 points but only lead the Carolina Hurricanes by one point in the division.

Face-off is set for 12:30 PM EDT and the game can be seen nationally on ABC. ESPN+


The Islanders won their sixth straight game on Thursday night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime on Kyle Palmieri's sharp-angle goal. Pierre Engvall and Casey Cizikas had the other goals for the Isles, who needed only 12 saves from Semyon Varlamov in the win. “With what’s at stake right now and the teams that are chasing us, we put ourselves in a spot where we control our destiny,” Casey Cizikas said. “Every single night we’re competing. You can see it on the ice, you can feel it in this dressing room, guys are buying in.” 

The Rangers lost their second straight on Thursday as the Philadelphia Flyers snapped an eight-game winless streak with a 4-1 win at MSG, putting their season-long stranglehold on the division in jeopardy with just two games remaining for them and Carolina.


The Islanders have three points in the three games versus their rivals this season (1-1-1). The teams didn't meet until January's Stadium Series matchup at MetLife Stadium, where the Rangers rallied from down three goals to beat the Isles 6-5 in overtime on Artemi Panarin's goal just 10 seconds into the extra session. The Rangers then won 5-2 on St. Patrick's Day on home ice before the Islanders scored three times in the first period and held on to win 4-2 on Tuesday night at UBS Arena.


For the Islanders, Ilya Sorokin will get the start in net for the third time against the Rangers this season. Sorokin won each of his previous two starts versus the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets, though head coach Patrick Roy has been riding the hot hand of Varlamov over the team's franchise goaltender, who has struggled for parts of this season. It's a big spot for Sorokin and an opportunity to reestablish himself as the team's No. 1 goaltender if the team should make the postseason. We'll also be watching to see if defenseman Noah Dobson is available after he left Thursday's game against Montreal early in the first period with an upper-body injury. If Dobson is unable to dress, Robert Bortuzzo would draw back into the lineup, and Sebastian Aho would play an increased role on the power play.

Meanwhile, rookie enforcer Matt Rempe is expected back in the Rangers lineup, which could bring drama following the way Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette took exception to Adam Pelech's unintentional collision with Mika Zibanejad in the third period. Later, as time was winding down, Dobson cross-checked Vincent Trocheck into the boards. If the Blueshirts come looking for retribution, it would likely be Rempe against someone else besides Pelech or Dobson.