The Upshot: NY Islanders start slow in 4-2 loss at MSG to open the pre-season

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


Kaapo Kakko, Tyler Pitlick, and Chris Kreider all scored in the opening 3:10 of the first period as the New York Rangers defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. William Dufour scored on the power play for the Islanders, and Arnaud Durandeau added a goal in the third period. Free-agent signing Blake Wheeler also scored for the Rangers. Semyon Varlamov settled in to make 20 saves on 24 shorts, and Igor Shesterkin stopped 11 of 12 shots, playing half the game.


After falling behind 3-0 after the first 3 minutes and 10 seconds, head coach Lane Lambert called timeout, and the game settled down for the team in their first game action of 2023-24. The power-play, which figures to be a focal point throughout the early season, got off to a good start thanks to prospect William Dufour. Dufour scored the Islander’s first goal of the pre-season, showing off his quick release as he took a deflection off the boards and beat Igor Shesterkin from a tough angle. More importantly, Dufour’s much-criticized skating looked improved.


Slow starts doomed this team last season, and Tuesday night brought back memories of exactly that, with the team surrendering costly three quick goals before many of you had a chance to turn on the game. “We did some good things, but certainly there were moments in the rest of the game that we have to improve on,” Lambert said. “Rome wasn't built in a day. We have work to do, and we will.”

Prospects Matthew Maggio and Isaiah George, the two players fans most eagerly wanted to see on Tuesday both struggled early and had to fight against adversity. George's turnover on his first shift of the game led to the Rangers goal just 15 seconds in, and he later was injured after taking a hit and falling awkwardly against the boards behind the net.

As for Maggio, he was victimized by a kneeing penalty from Vincent Trocheck in the first, but would return later in the period displaying his toughness. After the game, he was seen with a gash on his face, a possible broken nose, and some blood around his mouth. “There were some good things done by those young guys, but certainly there are some areas that we need to teach and correct and help,” Lambert said.


After allowing three goals in the first 3:10, Varlamov settled in and stopped 20 of 24 shots, allowing a goal to Blake Wheeler in the second-period. He played two full periods before being relieved by prospect Jakub Skarek who stopped all six shots he faced.


It was a three-man MSG Networks booth on Tuesday night, with Butch Goring playing the third wheel to Rangers home broadcasters Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti, who older Islanders fans will remember was ours first. The duo did their best to weave Goring into the telecast for Islanders insights, but it was still very much like a Blueshirst broadcast. Butchie missed Brendan, and so did we.


The Islanders are back on the ice tonight, with a game in Philadelphia against the Flyers.

Face-off is set at 7:00 p.m.