New York Islanders v New York Rangers
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Islanders ripped out the Rangers hearts in the final minutes with a Josh Bailey goal that left Henrik Lundqvist sprawled out.

  • New York Islanders 4 (24-14-4, 52 pts)
  • New York Rangers 3 (17-19-7, 41 pts)
  • NHL, Metro, Final, Box Score
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The New York Rangers came home Thursday night looking to shake off a horrendous three-game road trip and a four-game losing streak. Meanwhile, their crosstown rivals the New York Islanders were red hot. The Isles came into tonight’s game 8-2-0 in their last 10 and they handed their foes from Manhattan a very painful loss.

The Islanders defeated the Rangers 4-3 on a late goal from Josh Bailey at 18:34 into the third period, putting themselves in a playoff spot (at the moment) and handing the Rangers their fifth straight loss. The Islanders had only one shot in the third period, and that one shot was all they needed. From the beginning, we knew this would be the typical Rangers-Islanders matchup.

Things were chippy from the opening faceoff. Cody McLeod was ready to drop the gloves with Matt Martin. But Martin skated off the ice where he was replaced by Ross Johnston, the man McLeod fought when he broke his hand in November. Johnston tried to bate McLeod into a fight, but McLeod would not budge. Johnston’s antics led to an unsportsmanlike penalty where the Rangers capitalized.

Ryan Strome, against his former team, scored on the power play to take the early lead with just over a minute gone by. The goal broke the Rangers drought where they have not scored a power-play goal in four games. The goal was Strome’s 10th point as a Ranger in 24 games, he only had two in 18 games with the Oilers before the trade.

The lead, however, was short-lived. The Islanders hottest player, Mathew Barzal, after an intercepted pass, took the puck on a breakaway scoring on the backhand to tie the game at one. The goal was Barzal’s seventh goal in eight games. The goal was just 53 seconds after the Rangers scored first.

McLeod and Martin did not drop the gloves on the faceoff, but they did fight with 12:19 left in the period. The fight was McLeod’s first since he broke his hand against Johnston.

The Islanders then had a power play chance after a Jimmy Vesey tripping penalty. They made the Rangers pay. Jordan Eberle scored his ninth goal of the season, just under the arm of Henrik Lundqvist, to give the Isles a 2-1 lead not even halfway through the first period.

With over seven minutes left, the Rangers had an injury scare, not for a player, but for a coach. An Islanders pass deflected into the Rangers bench where it struck assistant coach Lindy Ruff in the head. Ruff appeared to be OK and did not need to leave the game.

At one point, the Rangers did not get a shot off for over 10 minutes. The shot that broke that drought came with 4:30 left in the first. Brett Howden had a great opportunity with three and a half minutes left on a pass from Vesey behind the net. But Johnny Boychuk and his long reach made a great play to prevent the shot. Howden is in the midst of a 24-game goal drought.

Immediately after, the Rangers had another great opportunity when Mats Zuccarello hit Mika Zibanejad near the net with a pass. But the pass deflected off of his stick and into the pad of Robin Lehner. The score remained 2-1 heading into the second with the Islanders out-shooting the Rangers 10-8.

The second period began similar to the first, with the Rangers scoring early. Kevin Shattenkirk with a shot from the near circle, beat Lehner far side to tie the game at two. The goal was Shattenkirk’s second of the season and first in 19 games. His last goal game on Nov. 9 against the Detroit Red Wings.

But also like the first period, the Isles answered right back. After Barzal drew a holding penalty on Marc Staal, Anders Lee deflected a Nick Leddy blast into the net to give the Islanders a 3-2 lead. Lundqvist held them off the board as long as he could, but the Rangers just could not clear the puck. The goal was 1:57 seconds after the Shattenkirk goal.

With seven minutes left, Neal Pionk had a chance with traffic in front of the net. But the puck rang off the pipe, preserving the one-goal deficit.

With two and a half minutes left, the Islanders had their third power play after a Vladislav Namestnikov hooking penalty. The Isles were two-for-two with the man advantage at this point. But this time the Rangers held the Islanders off the board long enough to keep the deficit at one. Through two periods, the Islanders led the shot count 20-13.

Nobody scored right out the gates like the previous two periods, but the Rangers got a power-play opportunity three minutes in. Lehner answered a Zibanejad rocket with a blocker to preserve the lead. Then the Islanders dug themselves in a hole after a delay of game penalty gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 for 55 seconds.

The Islanders, with the help of a big faceoff win and some blocked shots, were able to kill off both penalties. Lehner came up big again after Pavel Buchnevich made a power move from behind the net, Lehner answering with the glove.

It seemed the Rangers did not have an answer for Lehner. But after one of the strangest bounces, the Rangers finally broke through. Jesper Fast scored to tie the game at three after a Pionk shot deflected in the air like a pop-up and landing in front of him near the crease before cashing in. Fast now has goals in back-to-back games.

After the goal, McLeod and Martin had another scuffle in front of the Rangers bench. The scuffle led to 4-on-4 play which opened up a lot of space. But neither team took advantage.

When the teams were back at even strength, the Rangers almost took their second lead of the game after Fast tried to fool Lehner on a wrap around. But the shot did not bank off Lehner hard enough to go into the net, preserving the tie. This play would prove to be crucial in the end.

With under two minutes left in the third, the Islanders were still looking for their first shot of the period. But with 1:26 remaining, it was all they needed. Josh Bailey scored on a pass from Cal Clutterbuck to give the Islanders their third lead of the night. Pionk was playing man coverage on Bailey but made a cardinal sin in hockey by turning his back to the play for only a second, that second was all Bailey needed to get a quality shot off. The Rangers had little time to respond, and the Isles held on to win 4-3.

With this win, the Islanders now have 52 points and move into a wild-card spot barring the results from Thursday’s Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens games. Meanwhile, the Rangers have now lost five games in a row, they have been outscored 26-8, and find themselves falling further from playoff contention with only 41 points, 11 points behind the Isles and Hurricanes.

A side note to this game, a milestone was reached when the puck dropped. Lundqvist tied Montreal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante for 12th all-time in games by a goalie with 837.

The Rangers and Islanders will face each other again on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn. It will be the final matchup of the season barring a playoff series. The Islanders have won every matchup against the Rangers at the Barclays Center.

WPU Graduate. Die-hard Ranger fan. Pain loving Jet fan. Loves to make comic, movie and TV references. Born and raised in Central Jersey. Twitter @JohnnyLonny82 Instagram @JackKnife82