The Upshot: NY Islanders Hold On For 4-2 Win Over NY Rangers

After dominating the first period, the Islanders had to hold on tight for the last two periods to earn the two points against their crosstown rivals.
Semyon Varlamov has taken the reins in goal for the Islanders lately, as he put up another impressive performance against the Rangers.
Semyon Varlamov has taken the reins in goal for the Islanders lately, as he put up another impressive performance against the Rangers. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The NY Islanders held on for a hard-fought 4-2 victory over their crosstown rival NY Rangers Tuesday night at UBS Arena. The win keeps the Isles in third-place in the Metro Division, in control of their own playoff destiny with four regular season games to go.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Islanders got off to a hot start in the first period, with Mathew Barzal earning a penalty shot just 1:25 into the game. Although he was stopped by Igor Shesterkin, the Islanders continued their early push, resulting in Mike Reilly's 6th goal of the season just 4:12 into the game. The Islanders kept their foot on the gas, which resulted in Bo Horvat's 33rd goal of the season and Kyle Palmieri's 27th goal of the season within a few minutes of each other. Just like that, the Isles took a commanding 3-0 lead to the locker room.

But the Rangers came right back in the second period, and dominated the Islanders most of the period. The Isles were able to keep them off the board at even strength, but when the Islanders basically committed three minor penalties in a row, the Rangers scored on two of the ensuing power plays, cutting the Isles' lead to 3-2. Like most of this season, the Islanders' penalty kill was letting the team down.

The third period went a lot like the second period, with the Rangers pushing the play. Fortunately, Semyon Varlamov had yet another strong game in goal, and he kept the Rangers off the board in the third period. With second remaining in the game, Anders Lee hit the empty net to finish off a crucial 4-2 victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

The Islanders really came out strong in the first period, and played with playoff intensity. Casey Cizikas continues to be a terrific fit on the top line, as Bo Horvat scored again and Mathew Barzal had another strong two-way game. Noah Dobson has been slumping lately, but he had two assists tonight. Mike Reilly had another strong game in a strong season for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov continues to excel as the starting goaltender as he continues to earn ice time with his strong play in net.

WHAT WENT WRONG

The Islanders were dominated by the Rangers in the second and third periods. Without Varlamov's terrific performance, the Islanders would not have won this game. The penalty kill continues to struggle in key moments, and if the Isles are fortunate to make the playoffs, they will need to stay out of the box to have any prayer of advancing.

STATS OF THE GAME

Noah Dobson, Vincent Trocheck
Noah Dobson, who dodged a boarding penalty call late in Tuesday's game, has had a season for the ages with the Islanders. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

- The empty net goal was Anders Lee's 20th goal of the season, marking the 8th career 20-goal season for Lee. That ties him with Brock Nelson for the fourth-most in Isles history. Bryan Trottier holds the Isles franchise record with 13 20-goal seasons.

- With his two assists, Noah Dobson now has 60 assists on the season. The only other Islanders defenseman to have 60 assists in a season is Denis Potvin, who accomplished the feat four times.

SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME

As the Islanders close in on the third playoff spot in the Metro Division, they are guaranteed to play either the Rangers or the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, should they make the playoffs at all. The potential Isles-Rangers matchup would be the first playoff matchup between the teams in 30 years. There would be tremendous fan interest in such a series, although the stress levels would be through the roof!

WHAT'S NEXT

The Islanders host the Montreal Canadiens at UBS Arena on Thursday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM ET.