For the second time this season, the New York Islanders defeated their crosstown rivals.

  • New York Islanders 3 (26-20-10)
  • New York Rangers 2 (37-19-1)
  • NHL Final, Box Score
  • Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
How sweet it is.

Kevin Weekes, a former netminder for both the Islanders and Rangers, once said that each team’s fanbase would forgive its players for a losing season, so long as they beat their crosstown rivals.

For the second time in 2016-17, the Isles have accomplished that feat.

Nick Holden put the Blueshirt’s on the board first with his sixth of the season. The Isles would fail to capitalize on multiple power play opportunities during the first period, so they entered the second frame down a goal.

But Anders Lee would erase that deficit with his team-leading twenty-second dinger of the season (Josh Bailey added his team-leading twenty-eighth helper). Four minutes later, red-hot Andrew Ladd gave the Isles the lead, one they wouldn’t relinquish.

It wasn’t entirely a walk-in-the-park, though. Josh Bailey was penalized for a double-minor in the waning minutes of the second period, and the Rangers had plenty of chances to knot the game at two apiece. But with the penalty about to expire, Nikolai Kulemin notched his first shorthanded goal of the season, and the Isles jumped to a 3-1 lead.

What followed is a scene that has haunted Isles fans this season: just forty seconds later, former Islanders offseason target Jimmy Vesey brought his team within one (Weight unsuccessfully challenged the call). It’s something that Doug Weight‘s team will need to fix; allowing a goal immediately after scoring one is a recipe for disaster.

That being said, the Isles managed to secure the W, and now trail Toronto for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by one point. It’s encouraging that the players were able to respond to Tuesday night’s debacle—their worst loss of the season—with a resounding victory.

The rivalries final meeting will take place on March 22 at Madison Square Garden. As many have pointed out, the two teams used to face off eight times a season against each other. That number is now four. “I love these games and I think the fans love them also, but the schedule is league-oriented,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “I’m good either way.”

  • John Tavares has been thriving in his new role on the penalty kill. He recently added this facet of the game to his expansive repertoire, and it’s been paying dividends for the Isles: he’s relentless in his pursuit of the puck. He had a helper on Kulemin’s shorthanded goal Thursday night.
  • With the win, Doug Weight improved to 9-3-1 as Isles head coach. He’s orchestrated a miraculous turnaround to a once-dead season, despite only implementing a couple of changes.
  • Barclays Center was rocking, especially at the start of the final frame, when Kulemin registered his shorty. Sure, it wasn’t as loud as the Ol’ Barn on Hempstead Turnpike, but it was still really, really loud.
Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.